Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

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Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Anxiety sufferer Elliott has to beat his demons when his mother disappears and it's a tense, gripping, 482 metres.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: September 2016
Publisher: Electric Monkey
ISBN: 1405276193

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Everything scares Elliott. And by everything, we really mean everything. Elliott is not afraid of his mum, his aunt and his doctor. And that's it. Imagine that. Being frightened of your room. Of colours. Of noises. Of most things around you, no matter how everyday and mundane they are. This is the natural state of things for Elliott. And it's been that way since he was born prematurely and his twin, Ellamay, died.

Elliott keeps himself together by taking his anxiety pills religiously, by relying on his mum, and by rarely going out. Buoyed up by his pills, home is refuge for Elliott but even home wouldn't be refuge without them. And so when his mother goes out to collect his repeat prescription one day, leaving Elliott with just one pill to take, when a snowstorm starts and the power goes off and the last pill is taken, Elliott has a stark choice. Does he wait? Or does he go out to find Mum (and his pills)?

He goes out.

Where is Mum? Where are Elliot's pills? And can Elliott make it without either?

I thought Born Scared was a thoroughly tense and claustrophobic read. Although I'm not an anxious person myself, I really got inside Elliott's skin, as he struggled to beat his fears and find his mother. I loved the internal conversations he had with his twin, Ellamay, who offers him sound advice. These conversations partly expressed a profound sense of loss and also a trenchant common sense commentary on overcoming personal hurdles.

Of course, there's something going on the background, which is why Elliot's mother failed to return. This fulfils the traditional Kevin Brooks crime element of a story. I won't say any more for fear of spoiling it for you but I will say that it is probably a less successful aspect of the book. Elliott's battle with anxiety worked better. Even so, it's always good to see Brooks back in the fray of YA fiction. He is one of our favourite authors here at Bookbag. Born Scared isn't one of his best but it's still a satisfying page-turner and a must-read for his legions of fans.

If Kevin Brooks isn't on your radar yet, he should be. Favourites of ours include The Bunker Diary, Killing God and Lucas.

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