Flip by Martyn Bedford
|Flip by Martyn Bedford|
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam|
|Summary: An awesome psychological thriller with a fascinating premise, a plot that is paced spectacularly well, and a protagonist you will come to really empathise with. Enjoyed it immensely, and comes thoroughly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: March 2011|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
With no warning, no hint of anything wrong or out of the ordinary in his life, Alex wakes up one morning having lost six months of his life and in a foreign house filled with strangers; the morning turns from weird and scary, to outright crazy and terrifying when Alex discovers that the body he has woken up in is not his own but that of a boy called Philip, or Flip for short. Before he has time to even contemplate the horrifying possibility that he isn't dreaming or hallucinating, and is actually stuck in the body of a boy who he has never seen before, Alex is forced to face a day in the life of Philip Garamond, literally. As he goes through every possible route of enquiry, every logical way to at least make sense of his situation, if not try to reverse it, growing panic sets in and a chaotic, thrilling, and truly frightening sequence of events are set off.
I started reading Flip with relatively average expectations, expecting an interesting novel veering more towards action. What I got instead was a brilliant, engrossing, thought provoking, psychological thriller that was impossible to put down. The key to the novel's ability to enthral lies in the way in which the author has somehow managed to identify the teenage psyche and capture the voice of one with shocking realism; Alex's reactions to his plight and his attempts to make sense of his bewildering situation are so very believable and relatable, that you will immediately empathise with his character, and by investing in him, you will make yourself all the more susceptible to the emotional rollercoaster that he faces. Furthermore, no punches are pulled in the plot with no easy solution or convenient ways out. Alex's attempts to find his family capitulate spectacularly and there is no omniscient figure in the story to provide him with the answers to the questions he seeks; although he eventually discovers an online community of people who have had the same experience, dubbed psychic evacuation by Martyn Bedford, they offer no concrete answers. Even Rob, a fellow psychic evacuee, who meets up with Alex face to face and seems confident and sure of himself at first, is shown to still be struggling to get to grips with his new body after 4 years.
Tension is built up relentlessly towards the gripping climax, with the sense of overwhelming claustrophobia never fading away despite the slow build-up of a connection to Flip's family and friends, and even a nascent romance. The narrative flows well, with carefully structured revelations maintaining a very strong pacing. Alex's dilemma leads to some fascinating introspection into the nature of identity and the concept of souls, and as his contemplation leads him to further difficult questions, suspense grows, provoking even more anticipation for the conclusion. I am worried that I have revealed too much, so I'll say nothing about the climax and conclusion apart from the fact that it was intense, very satisfying and, most importantly, will stay with you for a good while.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
I am actually familiar with quite a few books with a similar theme or premise to Flip, but there are very few which are as absorbing and believable as it. The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight by Jenny Valentine has a protagonist in a similar situation to Alex, and comes highly recommended from TheBookbag. Meanwhile, The Returners by the brilliant Gemma Malley is a fascinating exploration of free will and fate, with a supernatural edge in the form of reincarnation, which I would also recommend.
You can read more book reviews or buy Flip by Martyn Bedford at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Flip by Martyn Bedford is in the Costa Prize 2011.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.