The Sticky Rock Cafe by Susie Cornfield

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The Sticky Rock Cafe by Susie Cornfield

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A book with every conceivable plot, stylistic device and unlikely coincidence thrown in higgledy piggledy, but with an enjoyably pacy plot and a heart very definitely in the right place.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 264 Date: March 2006
Publisher: Garret Books
ISBN: 978-0955227905

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At some point in the relatively near future, Planet Earth has hurtled even further towards meltdown. Water and petrol are rationed, the government has become more authoritarian, there has been an information clampdown and shadowy corporations are wielding even more power than ever. Only the youth seem to understand what's really going on. A group of teen eco-warriors known as the GeeZers (I know, I know, and there are plenty more silly names to come) are the only people fighting to save the biosphere.

Ruby Q (told you) is a wannabee journalist and GeeZer sympathiser whose father is mysteriously missing. Piccolo is a young street child with a gift for music. Will is the King's great nephew and, some would say, the true heir to the throne. The Sticky Rock Cafe follows their hair-raising adventures as they are all asked to put aside their personal ambitions and join together to save Planet Earth from environmental catastrophe. Together they face kidnap, torture by mechanoid guard dogs, electronic brainwashing, assassination, fire and lord only knows what else - all at the hands of Lorenzo di'Abolo (you see? The silly names also have puns), head of the exceedingly dodgy Dekaydence Corporation.

Oh my lord. The Sticky Rock Cafe made my head spin. There's so much going on I was positively shattered by the time I finished reading it. It's told turn and turn about from the point of view of its three main characters and there are enough plot twists, red herrings and mad coincidences to satisfy any lover of a good conspiracy theory thriller and then some more for (not always) good measure. All this hair-raising stuff is jolly good fun, but it can get horribly confused. I had no idea what was going on half the time and when the narrative made a few odd jumps into the first person, I wasn't even sure if it was intentional. Ruby Q's sections are told in the style of an interview (Ruby, the would-be journo is interviewing herself y'see) just to confuse you further.

But y'know what? It might all be a bit of a nightmare structurally. The names might be terribly silly. The style might be a trifle schizophrenic. But The Sticky Rock Cafe is actually very enjoyable. It wears its heart on its sleeve and it's really rather a nice heart. I'd certainly prefer to read a slightly ludicrous thriller about teenagers trying to save the world than a slightly ludicrous thriller with teenagers helping destroy it with the aid of the latest military technology, wouldn't you? And let's face it, there are enough of those in the market. Also, I quite like any book for young people that has a background theme of corporations and governments manufacturing consent. Someone's gotta tell them how it really is!

There's a sequel coming up, so expect the cliffhangers to keep on coming, right to the very last page.

My thanks to the publisher, Garret Books, for sending the book.

Environmentally concerned teenagers might like to read the advice contained within the upbeat I Count and those who like a light action-based read might conveniently forget the carbon emissions and enjoy Jack Higgins' Sure Fire.

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Buy The Sticky Rock Cafe by Susie Cornfield at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sticky Rock Cafe by Susie Cornfield at


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movink said:

I am in agreement with the reviewer's very positive conclusion but a little surprised at her criticisms of the book.

I did not find the plot at all difficult to follow and found the pace just right. I also enjoyed the puns in the names. Perhaps I am just not a good critic!

Jill replied:

Gosh, you found us quickly! The review isn't on Google yet!

Susie Cornfield replied:

Mea culpa! I emailed the link sent to us to a few people who'd read the book; thought they'd be interested.


trevor.belton said:

I am not normally a book reader but as I know the author's husband I thought I had better read it. I loved the concept of the way one plot stopped, another started and then the first continued etc. This, I found, kept my interest in the book and I am looking forward to the sequel.