Fightback by Steve Voake
|Fightback by Steve Voake|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A derivative, if fast-paced thriller, setting a young hero on an implausible fight for vengeance and justice against a drugs gang.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Faber Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet Kier. A smart, yet lonely, young teen, he's been farmed off to a private school by his dad since mother died. Among his achievements are several successes on the karate mat, but all this is about to change. When his father is rammed off a motorway and murdered, Kier finds he's even more alone, and duty-bound to fight even more, when he gets clues to just who his father might have been, and how to go about responding to his death.
Beyond the kinetic pace of the opening and effortless style that runs throughout this thriller, there was a lot I found very disappointing. Just when we needed a spunky girl colleague for both Kier to look up to and to show him up as not all that, one comes along. Just when we think we're on solid ground along comes a businessman with a private police force and some of the truth about Kier's past and future destiny. Yet nobody needed the Oriental fighting master to come into things with his yawnsome, extended training montage, full of Zen lessons in fighting concerning bowls of water and flower petals.
Having dismissed so much of this as old hat I have to acknowledge the younger reader will not have got fed up with such stereotypes, but there's a second problem. I just couldn't believe the progress of Kier. In just six weeks of Zen training, and some shooting and driving crash courses (no pun intended), he's ready to descend into such an unrealistic plot. Yes, he's never dressed as a super hero, but I found far too much implausible. He must have been the finished article in so many ways, and only needed a gentle fillup to get him to combat the baddies here with so much chutzpah, intelligence and wit.
In other words, for me as a sniffy adult, he failed. For the audience of under thirteens, encountering for perhaps the first time their hero combating armed drug dealers, and dipping policemen for the keys to their cars, Kier might be more of a success. My Bookbag star rating is marked up to appreciate that. Especially as the pace only builds after the training sessions, the visual approach of Voake is very, er, eVoakative, and the dramatic style is very amenable in its light touches of description and concentration on the essentials. It's definitely a brash, pacey, single-session read, and I'm sure there will be some glee to be had from it, but I found too much that was too unlikely.
I must thank Faber's kind people for my review copy, and still wish them well with this book. However, in a world of Alex Rider books like Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz and the much spunkier, wilder rides of something like The General by Robert Muchamore, I can't see this setting the world alight.
I could also mention Meteorite Strike by A G Taylor, where more motherless children find their destiny has more to do with running, action and fighting than they had planned.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fightback by Steve Voake at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Fightback by Steve Voake at Amazon.com.
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