Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne
|Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne|
|Reviewer: Z J Cookson|
|Summary: A fast moving and gritty thriller with an emotional kick. Recommended for teens but be prepared for some uncomfortable scenes and vivid, although not graphic, violence.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 279||Date: May 2015|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
Twelve year old Bully and his mongrel dog, Jack, have been living rough for almost six months – ever since Bully's mum died. The future holds no hope until, quite by accident, he finds the lottery ticket he purchased for his mum hidden inside the last birthday card she gave him. He checks the numbers and discovers he's won the jackpot. But there's only days left before the ticket expires and Bully's not old enough to claim the money. To make matters worse, word of his winning ticket has got out and every unsavoury character on the streets is now after him.
After a slightly slow start, this becomes a pacey and exciting novel that's likely to appeal to teen readers. From the point at which the chase really begins the book is hard to put down as we devour page after page hoping Bully can find a way to Watford (where lottery company Camelot are based) and willing him to stay one step ahead of the increasing number of people who will go to almost any length to separate him from his winning ticket.
The tension, and the violence, builds as Bully witnesses a stabbing, is shot at, and ultimately faces a vicious dog fight in a concrete pit. The violence isn't in any way graphic – Michael Byrne is clearly aware of his teen audience – but it is vividly written and could be disturbing for younger readers. There was one occasion when I almost put the book down. But of course I didn't because I needed to know what was going to happen next.
Bully is a believable and sympathetic character and the detailed description of life on the streets at the start of the book feels accurate and more than a little uncomfortable. He's not had a good deal in life with his mother's death and her heartless ex-partner, Phil, moving his girlfriend into the flat almost the moment Bully's mum dies. However, it is Bully's obvious affection for his dog that really wins us over.
A bull terrier-Staffy cross mongrel Jack is undoubtedly my favourite character and she suffers every bit as much as Bully. Luckily the author clearly cared as much as I did about Jack and I was pleased to find he developed a story arc for both Bully and his pet dog.
I have only one slight niggle with the plot and that's because I found it quite difficult to believe that Bully, after six months on the streets, would really be stupid enough to share the news of his winning with people he barely knows. However, this is necessary to make the story work and the characterisation and subsequent plot is strong enough to make me overlook this.
Overall this is a fast moving and gritty thriller with more of an emotional kick than most in this genre. I look forward to reading Michael Byrne's next book.
FURTHER READING SUGGESTION:
You could get a free audio download of Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne at Amazon.com.
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