Spray by Harry Edge

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Spray by Harry Edge

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A fun idea turned into a story that might be short on substance, but is long on style. A fun read, even if the lack of depth means it can really only be read the once.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340956144

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In an unknown city, a game of 'Spray' is about to start. Consisting of two hundred players, all armed with water pistols or balloons, the idea of the game is to assassinate a target who has been selected for you. When you have taken your target out of the game, their target becomes your next target. The game continues until there is only one player left standing.

We follow the players as they prepare for and become involved in the game. Some of them will not last the first day, some of them will not even last the first hour. Others will play with much more skill and subtlety and will make several kills and last well into the game. Some players have played the game before and expect to win. One player in particular is not interested in the game itself, but is playing for her own reasons and has had to bend the rules to even be involved.

The story is mostly about the game, rather than the players. Of course, we have to follow the players to get the game, as they make alliances with other players and as they hunt and kill and are themselves hunted and killed. We get a brief introduction to some of them; there are students, business people and even a police officer. Most, but by no means all, of them are young; many of them have invented clever nicknames. But their ages and professions are largely irrelevant and their names are used solely to distinguish one from the other.

The game is the thing and the game is a heck of a lot of fun to play. This means that the game is also a heck of a lot of fun to read about. Some of the kills are simple and amusing in their simplicity, some involve a little bit of stalking and a little more planning. The longer the game goes on, the more skilled the remaining players are and the harder the kills. Some involve some really rather elaborate planning that may or may not turn out the way they'd hoped.

Spray is very skilfully written, with the pace matching the game, constantly switching between characters and with short chapters that keep the pages turning. The language used reflects that of the characters, being pretty simple and so helps making the book easy to read, although it's the constant action that keeps you going more than the writing. Keeping going is exactly what I did with the book as well, going through it from cover to cover in a couple of sittings lasting a little over four hours. It wasn't that I intended to read it so quickly, but there was never a point where the story paused for long enough to make putting the book down and taking a break an easy decision.

Edge's writing is such that the book reads very much as if it would make a decent action film. There's a lot of colour and the characters are quite well described in basic outlines; in terms of hair colour, size and clothing, although they do tend to be fairly bland in their facial features; we get a blurred image of them, but never a clear picture. The equipment they carry is always mentioned in terms of their colour, rather than being properly described. The reader is put in the position of one of the players, catching a glimpse of colour from the corner of the eye, but never seeing things clearly. In terms of the writing matching the subject matter, Harry Edge has done superbly.

If there is a down side, it's that some of the ideas that were touched upon in the book were never fully explored. There was a touch of romantic entanglement that never really came to fruition and the city was going through a severe water shortage at the time which was mentioned on several occasions, but never become an integral part of the story, which could have made things a little more interesting. This lack of other ideas did make the story seem a little superficial, but it didn't reduce the excitement factor of it.

This lack of depth does mean that the book can really only be read the once, as there's nothing else to discover once you've reached the end and repeated readings wouldn't give any further enlightenment. This makes Spray a book that would be far better borrowed than purchased, but it's an exciting read that shouldn't be missed.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

We think that teens who enjoy this book might also enjoy The Traitor Game by B R Collins.

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Buy Spray by Harry Edge at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spray by Harry Edge at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Spray by Harry Edge at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spray by Harry Edge at Amazon.com.


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