Boy 23 by Jim Carrington

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Boy 23 by Jim Carrington

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fresh take on the dystopian genre, blending alternate history and a little bit of sci-fi into the mix. Who is Boy 23? And who wants him dead? And why?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408822776

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Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone.

Before being dumped alone in the forest by The Voice, Boy 23 - or Jesper, as we shall call him - has lived in a room entirely by himself. He has never met another human being or been outside. His only experience of the world has been through a few short video clips, shown to him on his Screen by The Voice in My Place. Now, he finds himself alone with only a bag full of survival equipment and some brief words from The Voice: his life is in danger, people have been sent to kill him, he must head north west to the Low Countries, The Voice will meet him there and explain everything.

Who is Boy 23? Who wants him dead? And why?

A slight word of warning: if you're a fan of the current commercial dystopian genre and you're looking for a story with all the tropes and standard plots that define it, you won't find it here. Boy 23 is a very fresh take on this genre and it blends in a bit of alternate history and sci-fi. And the world building is subtle; very much in the background.If you want the familiar and comforting, you might be disappointed.

On the other hand, if, like me, you're a little bored of dystopia-by-numbers and are looking for something new and different, you will find it here. The novel is essentially a thriller and the plot is essentially a chase. The world is a kind of alternate history-come-speculative environment, set in Germany after a societal breakdown and in which an authoritarian regime has taken control. So far, so dystopian. But the world building is very much secondary to both the chase plot and the eventual reveal. And the reveal was what interested me most. I hate to give any spoilers but pay close attention because the first hint comes as early as page 7. Why is Boy 23 so special?

I liked Jesper. As a boy with no experience of the outside world at all, he learns fast and proves resourceful. Much of the story is told from his point of view and his struggle to understand both his past and his present is very relatable. But there are also other narrators: Carina, another victim of the regime, who has an awful past and who is drawn to Jesper; and Blake, an employee of the facility Jesper knows as My Place, who is intimately concerned with what has happened to Jesper.

The narrative is action-packed, the setting is ominous, and the underlying truth of the story is cleverly revealed. Boy 23 offers top quality writing and something new in what is becoming a rather jaded field. I loved it.

If Boy 23 sounds as though it's up your alley, you might also enjoy Ultraviolet by R J Anderson, another multi-genre story spanning sci-fi, mystery thriller and the paranormal.

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Buy Boy 23 by Jim Carrington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Boy 23 by Jim Carrington at


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