The Traitors by Tom Becker

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The Traitors by Tom Becker

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A very good and dark thriller for the more fantasy-inclined tween audience.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9781407109527

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Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

What's the saying - sin in haste, repent at leisure? Well Adam is going to be the embodiment of that. One moment where he plants a kiss on his best mate's girl's lips, even though they seem to have split up - at least temporarily - and lo and behold he's snatched by a passing dirigible, and shipped across the universe, to a place outside of time, where the idea is he has three hundred years in prison as penance, after which he will be inserted into the very instance he leaves, remembering only that he should behave a bit more diplomatically in future. Of course, Adam has other ideas...

And of course, the whole idea behind everything here is complete hokum, causing plotholes and a couple of scoffs. But I still managed to silence those and enjoy the book, besides that. I really liked the visual invention of the Dial, where Adam is deposited by the zeppelin. It's basically a sort of clockwork shaped panopticon, set up around a bottomless chasm, within which is a handy spindle. One moves from block to block by using robotic hour and minute hands, and hopes never to get to Wing XII before final departure.

By the end of the book I'd been through a brilliant amount of 'Der-der-DERRRR!!!!' moments, and there are enough swings and twists as we work out alongside Adam who everyone really is - after all, nobody is here with good intentions. But if there was a flaw perhaps it was that I was introduced to those characters in too lackadaisical a fashion. Having a character say something like shut up, Mouthwash and leaving it at that isn't enough to make me care for one of the middle-ranked characters.

There were a couple of other instances where I didn't feel I could quite trust Tom Becker. I wasn't sure for a bit if the token gang of ruffians were going to get to be more than stereotypes. I feared that the introduction of yet another brand new, violent sport for the inmates wasn't going to be a cheap way to inject pace and action. I needn't have worried, and in the end, once we've read many pacey exchanges between characters, found many sterling plot twists, and seen many a memorable image, the aftertaste of this book was greater than the flavour I encountered when reading it. It was almost enough to make me want to up my Bookbag star rating of The Traitors - either way, I still feel no qualms about recommending it to the right audience.

I must thank the nice Scholastic people for my review copy.

More teens breaking out of a prison can be read in the brilliantly dark series I only met with book three - Furnace: Death Sentence by Alexander Gordon Smith, while more youngsters are in a time-frozen future for allegedly brighter reasons in Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf.

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Buy The Traitors by Tom Becker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Traitors by Tom Becker at


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