Clash by Colin Mulhern

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Clash by Colin Mulhern

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: Like Alex the book is gritty and hard-hitting on the outside, but when you read closer, you will realise it is more a story of friendship and redemption. Thrilling, fascinating and engrossing throughout. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Catnip
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846471162

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Alex Crow is the sort of kid who you stay well away from, whether you're the nerdy classroom joker or the loudmouthed bully of the class. From Kyle's point of view he appears to be a disturbed psycho, with barely restrained brutality, and he does everything possible to avoid him. However, events conspire to bring the two together, and we learn that there is a lot more to both characters than first impressions seem to imply. As tensions mount and stakes are upped, it is down to a tortured Alex to overcome his internal confusion, fight to save those close to him, and redeem himself as a person.

Although Kyle is by no means a cardboard cut-out, I found Alex's story particularly hard-hitting and fascinating. Manipulated by his father and uncle into training for no holds barred fighting, Alex eventually finds himself fighting in front of an audience, in a cage, against other youths. Desperate for acceptance from his father and that glorious special feeling of being talented that we all cherish, Alex quickly finds himself rising up the ranks of cage fighting. However, one day a fight gets out of hand and his father commits a horrible crime that leaves Alex stunned to his core and suddenly doubting his identity. Meanwhile, Kyle has to cope with tragedy in his family, and the threat of a furious Alex Crow determined to take out his anger on him.

A dual narrative is skilfully utilised by Colin Mulhern, and the two narrative characters are brought to life with great vividness by sharp and fluid writing. The tensions in Alex's life, fuelled by his troubled relationship with his unpleasant father and the horribly crime he witnessed him committing, colour his attitude to other people; by simultaneously describing his viewpoint and that of Kyle's, our view of scenes are coloured by what we know about the characters, both of whom it is difficult not to sympathise with. The novel really emphasises how crucial the factor of perspective is, with a number of confrontations being described from the viewpoints of both boys, and this juxtaposition between Kyle and Alex makes for a fascinating read. Kyle is kind and empathic with an intrinsic sense of right and wrong, while for the isolated Alex it is much harder to do the right thing, and this is something he has to learn to do through Kyle. It is the internal struggle that consumes Alex that makes him so fascinating, and had me rooting for his redemption.

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

The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan is a beautifully written book I would highly recommend with its unflinching hard-hitting prose that looks at the tensions that lie in the lives of youth and how they can get out of hand and lead to violence. Quarry by Ally Kennen might also appeal to those who enjoyed Clash, with an interesting look at the teenage psyche and plenty of twists and thrills.

Buy Clash by Colin Mulhern at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Clash by Colin Mulhern at

Buy Clash by Colin Mulhern at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Clash by Colin Mulhern at


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