Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss

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Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A book that manages to be both a dramatic science fiction story and a darkly funny piece of satire about our addiction to Internet personalities and crazes, Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You is an extremely fun read, and is well worth it for fans of the TV show.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: October 2016
Publisher: BBC Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785941887

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At Coal Hill School, things have started to get public. Kids have become obsessed with a website that demands you perform risky stunts, or tell it your most painful secrets. And Seraphin, everyone's favourite vlogger, wants you to get involved. All in the name of charity. At first people just get hurt. Then their lives are ruined. Finally, they disappear. As April's fragile group of friends starts to fracture, she decides she's going to uncover the truth behind thie site herself. Whatever it takes, whoever she hurts, April's going to win. But then, to her horror, she wakes up and finds her whole world's changed.

What she does next will astound you.

Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You is one of a series of three books that are companion novels to the tv show Class. Class, a spin off of Doctor Who that features a cast of young adults studying in Coal Hill school. They go through the usual trials and tribulations of teen angst - but also have to contend with the various horrors that come from a rift in time and space located rather handily on the school. Funny, scary and well worth a watch - and these novels well worth a read.

Author James Goss has a strong connection to the Doctor Who universe, having written various novels both concerning the main show, and the adult spinoff Torchwood. He's also written several original novels, some featuring a lady assassin in Ancient Egypt, and one, Haterz, which was a satire about the internet and the kind of people who inhabit it. That's a theme that Goss has taken into What She Does Next Will Astound You, and it's one he's an expert in. Having developed the Cult section of the BBC (where I spent a huge amount of time in the early 2000's), and then developed an incredibly ahead-of-its-time website for the Doctor Who relaunch, it's clear that Goss knows the internet - and that knowledge makes this book a remarkably current and blackly funny book.

We've all seen those adverts online - appearing in the sides and corners of websites we're trying to browse. This 60 year old Mother of Five had a surgery free facelift. She now looks 40 years younger! Click here to see how she did it, You won't believe what this child star looks like now... and so on. They're irritating, and they're clickbait, but sometimes they're rather hard not to click on. In addition, there has been a speight in recent years of videos showing crazes and dares - the Ice Bucket Challenge probably the most memorable, given that it did some good, but crazes for things like Happy Slapping and Make Up Free Selfies have been rife in recent years - people desperate to gain popularity by joining in, and rarely considering the implications or consequences of the actions they're recording on video, destined to live forever in some dark corner of the internet.

Goss uses these elements to rather brilliant effect here - blending them into a plot that features character April rather strongly. She's a complex one - when she initially appeared in the TV show I was concerned that she would be rather a bland central character, around which the other far more interesting members of the ensemble would revolve. However, rather shocking events of the series opener changed that, and her character continues to be built on rather brilliantly here, and her friendly and curious nature makes her an excellent guide for the reader as they're plunged into a rather surprising world. Goss's familiarity with the internet leads to some exceptionally funny chapter titles, and it's clear that he understands extremely well the social pressures that young adults in schools today are under, and the kinds of internet personalities who hold many of us in their sway today.

All in all, it leads to a compelling story, and the big twist in the final part of the book is one that will no doubt surprise many. Annoyingly for me, completely by chance I had recently watched an episode of a TV show with a similar twist, so managed to guess the one here at quite an early stage, but I'm sure that won't be the case for most readers. The plot is compelling and blends dark humour with genuine drama and tension into a story that, weirdly, doesn't seem all that far fetched these days...

Many thanks to the publisher for the copy, and for further reading I suggest Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It has some similar elements to Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You, although where Ready Player One revelled in its 80's nostalgia, Class: What She Doest Next Will Astound You is a lot more up to date.

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