Tape by Steven Camden

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Tape by Steven Camden

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Tanja Jennings
Reviewed by Tanja Jennings
Summary: A talented, thoughtful, sensitive, entertaining début about the mysteries of the human heart, the pain of bereavement, serendipity, music and the power of a mixed tape. This book is a rarity as it’s a joy to read, hard to forget after you close it and an instant recommendation for someone else.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007511204

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This treasure of a book is an affectionate tribute to the world of the mixed tape and the human desire to find a fairy tale. It encapsulates universal themes of love, hope and fate while adding a soupcon of magic.

Thirteen year olds Ryan and Ameliah are apart in time but interconnected by the universe. Camden demonstrates great versatility as he switches effortlessly between their two third person narratives. He is able to write sensitively from the perspective of different genders evoking the dynamics of family dramas and the awkwardness of coming of age. His descriptive and engaging style captures the tentativeness of the adolescent on the cusp of something new and exciting, the bewilderment and fear at gathering up the courage to tell someone you like them and the power of a personal gesture.

Both Ryan and Ameliah need someone to listen to them about where they came from, the importance of family and who they think they are. Above all they want to feel the sense of belonging in connecting to another person. They endeavour to find a way to communicate this through time and space. Camden skilfully paints pictures in the reader’s mind by hooking them with nostalgic and iconic pop culture references from specific time periods ranging from Dirty Dancing to Nirvana’s Never Mind to Hip Hop to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon to John Coltrane to Nina Simone to Nesquik milk shakes. He explores the significance of memories conjuring up moments frozen in time and the symbolism and bonding nature of music and film.

Harper Collins reflects Camden’s theme of paying homage to old technology by depicting tape reels and pause buttons on the novel’s pages and giving it a flyleaf consisting of a blurb and author biography depicted as the A and B sides of a tape. If I had one criticism, subsidiary characters like Big L and Heather could have been more rounded but this is a minor quibble. Tape is a must read and a star of 2014 for me. It’s a pity it did not make the Carnegie longlist.

FURTHER READING SUGGESTIONS:

For a bizarre and romantic tale of love, the mysteries of the universe and time travel told from a dual perspective try The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, a rare book to which the film did not do justice, or for a random, imaginative, inspired and quirky fantasy read involving a time loop, fall into the world of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher is also a clever, intricately crafted time slip fantasy. Alternatively, you could experience MetaMAUS by Art Spiegelman, which deals with family relationships and includes transcripts of the original recordings Art made of his father's recollections of his personal holocaust for the Pulitzer prize winning graphic novel "Maus".

Buy Tape by Steven Camden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tape by Steven Camden at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tape by Steven Camden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tape by Steven Camden at Amazon.com.


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