Monday 3 September 2012

Monday Musings: Book Review of Another Life by Keren David

My thanks to Frances Lincoln for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous two books in Keren David's trilogy, When I Was Joe and Almost True.

Ty's cousin Archie, son of two top lawyers, has managed to get himself expelled from another boarding school. He wants to be back in London, spending time with his friends and with his cousin. But with Ty struggling to cope as he's sentenced to a spell of time in a Young Offenders Institution, Archie tries to find out more about his cousin's past.

Those readers who've followed Ty's story through When I Was Joe and Almost True will no doubt have one question at the forefront of their mind - how does the change in narrator work? Thankfully, it pays off. Archie is a really interesting character, whose hyperactive nature and tendency towards crazy ideas are huge fun to read about. That said, I'm not sure if I could have coped with him as the only narrator - I quite welcomed the change to Ty's POV for some parts to calm things down a bit. (The fact that a decent proportion of Ty's parts take place in the Young Offender Institution, and David does nothing to sugar-coat the harsh realities of life there, should give you some idea of just how much is going on in Archie's life!)

I was about to say that it's as bleak and uncompromising as ever, but that's a misrepresentation of David's writing. While there are certainly some staggeringly impactful scenes - most notably one which has replaced what Ty sees in Claire's room in the firsst book as the scene most likely to give me a nightmare - there's never an absence of hope. However dark things get, there's real loyalty here between friends and family, and it's that loyalty which keeps both the characters and the reader afloat as things go bad. A good job, too - because with the involvement of gangland thugs, drugged-up teens, and people out for revenge, things get really, really bad.

I also think David handles the relationships brilliantly here. Forget love triangles, we get a virtual love octagon as Archie is a teenage boy with a hyperactive libido and a short attention span which sees him bounce around from girl to girl, with Ty and Archie's friend Oscar on the outskirts with their own attempts at romance. As ever with David, the sexual tension - as well as providing a nice contrast between Archie's ever-changing attraction to various girls and Ty and Claire's much deeper feelings for each other - adds to the drama rather than distracting from the main storyline.

Strong recommendation which cements David as one of the very best thiller writers out there for either adults or teens.

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