Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler

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Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: The latest Blade installment is a breathtaking chase over 160 pages. It's hard-hitting, punchy, colloquial and utterly brilliant. If Hollywood actions films sustained this level of tension, I might watch more of them.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: January 2009
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0192755587

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Ever wondered where you go when you're dead? Then watch this space. Cos I've been there. And here's something to blitz your mind.

I'm still there.

And I might not be coming back.

It's out of my control now. I can't make anything happen in this place. It's just me and Death. And you don't mess with him. He's the gobbo in charge.

Yowzer. In this third book - instalment, perhaps, is a better word - about Blade we find our young anti-hero losing immediate control for the very first time. He's just been stabbed. While Blade is always battling bigger, anonymous forces he is unable to influence, he's also always had the ability to manipulate his current circumstance to his own advantage. He has incredibly heightened awareness, he understands the streets, and he can wield a knife like no other. But in the opening scenes of Breaking Free he is trapped, immobile, with his blood, and life, seeping away. It's a shocking scene, and if you weren't already agog to read the book after its predecessor's cliffhanger ending, it will catapult you straight back into the zone.

The rest of this short psychological thriller keeps up the tension as Blade tries to escape both medical attention and the shadowy forces pursuing him. Much of the mystery persists. Blade narrates in a second person narrative. He's talking someone external as usual, and we no more know who Big Eyes is than we know who is chasing him and why. How can a young boy have such persistent and malevolent enemies? Why do they want him? Who's Becky? What's Mary got to do with it?

I absolutely love these books. They're forceful and immediate, colloquial and tense. They're easy to read, but the complications of big ideas hover like a storm cloud as you read. Is Blade's ability with a knife the secret behind what has brought him so low, or is that ability a consequence of the threat to him? We can only wait to find out, but the relentless violence and the heavy symbolism of the knife doesn't presage well.

Accessible to all but deceptively clever, the Blade series will maintain the attention of readers as young as ten (with the caveat of violence for nervous parents) right up to young adults, and readers who are both reluctant and keen. There's a such an energetic buzz about them that you feel strangely doom-laden but absolutely invigorated as you read. And you can't wait to see what happens in the next one.

My thanks to the nice people at OUP for sending the book.

If they're happy to cope with books three times as long as this one, they might also enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness which has a similar immediacy and tension.

Booklists.jpg Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler is in the Top Ten Books To Drag The Kids Away From Computer Games For Ten Minutes At Least.

Bookinterviews.jpg Tim Bowler was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler at


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