Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig

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Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Energetic and easy to read, Revenge continues the adventures of a bio-engineered boy fighting against espionage and skullduggery in an authoritarian future. Jimmy's struggle against his genetic destiny chalks it up a notch or two above the competition.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007232857

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Jimmy Coates is only 38 percent human. The other 62 percent is "Earth's finest technological hardware". A cross between Jason Bourne and the Six Million Dollar Man, Jimmy has been bio-engineered by NR7, the British Secret Services. To them, he is simply a weapon. As Jimmy grows, so does his programming. By the time he turns 18, the transformation will be complete and Jimmy will have become a fully-fledged organic assassin and the lethal tool of an increasingly authoritarian British government.

But not if Jimmy can help it.

In Revenge, Jimmy is on the run from NR7. Through Christopher Viggo - a "democratic terrorist" according to Britain's government, but a freedom fighter to Jimmy - he and his friends escape to New York, where they hole up above a restaurant in Chinatown and make contact with the CIA. Worryingly, Jimmy is experiencing visions, which seem to look into the future.

Then there is a lot of fighting.

This is the third in Joe Craig's series about Jimmy Coates and the junior action fan in your family would probably be better off to start with the first two. But it doesn't really matter. Craig smoothly provides all the background they'll need in the first few pages. And after that, they'll be rattling through the action at a rate of knots and almost certainly won't care.

I really didn't expect to like Jimmy Coates. I haven't read the first two books in the series, having been put off junior spy thrillers for life by that excruciating little snotbag, Alex Rider. I just can't stand him. And neither can my son. Alex Rider is the unsufferable and superior idiot you remember from school. The one whose mum and dad spoil him rotten and who always has the latest this and that. Jimmy Coates isn't that child. Jimmy is a reluctant hero. Until recently, Jimmy had believed himself to be normal. He doesn't want his bionic parts and he certainly doesn't want to become an assassin. He struggles against biological determinism at every turn and this ratchets up his story a good few notches. The Alex Rider books are more complex and certainly darker. They probably provide a greater technical challenge for the young reader. On this level, Revenge is a much easier book. Confident readers of 9 and up will find it easy to read, approachable and exciting.

However, Jimmy must struggle not only against the villains, but also against himself and the remorseless development of his programming. There are lots of gadgets, but Jimmy himself is the biggest gadget of all. This throws up a host of moral ambiguities and challenges which elevate the book from the merely superficial. Revenge can be read by the younger child as a piece of bubblegum adventure fiction while at the same time providing the more mature child with some X-Man style thematic background to think through. I wasn't expecting to find more than one level and it was a nice surprise.

By the end of Revenge, I'd become exceedingly fond of young Jimmy Coates.

Parents concerned about violence in children's books should know that there is a lot of it in Revenge, but nobody actually dies. Killing is presented as reprehensible and is never the only solution.

Thanks to Harper Collins for sending the book.

A similarly faced-paced thriller for young action fans is Sure Fire by Jack Higgins.

Buy Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jimmy Coates: Revenge by Joe Craig at Amazon.com.


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johnresen said:

I think it was a fantastic book and can't wait to read the new one Sabotage

Ruqayyah.Hashmi said:

I don't think The Alex rider books are that bad. I have read all of the Alex rider books and i find them very interesting. I also think that Jimmy Coates is great though.

Jill replied:

I think you are in the majority too - else the Alex Rider books wouldn't sell so well! I'm afraid he just makes me want to slap him.

Nicole Kimball:

I can't wait to read it, I coudn't put the first two down. By the way Alex Rider isn't that bad, it might be slower to happen but he's pretty cool.