Firewallers by Simon Packham

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Firewallers by Simon Packham

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Simon Packham gives us yet another excellent teen contemporary novel, complete with one of the best narrators for ages. Definitely recommended! simon popped in to Bookba Towers to chat to us about the inspiration behind Firewallers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1848123076

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After Jess's dad gets suspended from work, her mum takes her and her older sister out of school. Fleeing from publicity, they go to a remote Scottish island to join a community of people who shun modern technology. The longer they stay on the island, though, the stranger things seem to be. What's going on, and when will Jess see her dad again?

This is the fourth teen contemporary novel by Simon Packham. All of them are set at St Thomas's Community College (well, the very first part of this one is, at least) but read perfectly as stand-alones. Like his previous books, Firewallers is excellent. Jess, who's tough and feisty but struggles to deal with the bizarreness of the Dawdlers community has a voice which is just brilliant to read - Packham really captures her character beautifully. The other characters, especially her mother, are also well-drawn, and despite the aforementioned bizarreness of the island it feels realistically strange - I could believe in it. (Although I was very glad I wasn't living there myself, I think the lack of Twitter would have had me crying to be let off within a couple of days!)

In addition, it's extremely unpredictable - there were three or four moments when I nearly dropped the book in shock, including one incredibly difficult to read scene - but very well plotted. It's a gritty read, but Jess's voice stops it from ever becoming depressingly bleak. It also has one of the most stunning endings I've read in years, which gave me complete goosebumps when reading it.

Overall, it's an easy recommendation as a very good book with a wonderful narrator. Packham is hugely consistent and if it was possible, I'd pre-order his next novel right now without needing to know anything about it - I'm so confident that it'll be worth reading.

If you like this and haven't already read his earlier books, you should definitely pick them up! I thought Comin 2 gt u was great, with the only thing stopping it getting five stars being an ending which felt slightly rushed, while Silenced is a gem - one of the best teen contemporaries of 2012, which was an outstanding year for the genre. If you've read all of his work and are looking for another author who writes brilliant gritty contemporary tales for teenagers, I'd highly recommend the superb Laura Jarratt. Both Skin Deep and By Any Other Name are wonderful.

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Buy Firewallers by Simon Packham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Firewallers by Simon Packham at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Firewallers by Simon Packham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Firewallers by Simon Packham at


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