Momentum by Saci Lloyd

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Momentum by Saci Lloyd

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fantastic chase novel set in a future London post-peak oil and in which the poor live in South American style favelas while the rich enjoy a privileged lifestyle. A police crackdown and a resistance movement brings together one teenager from each side of the divide in a deadly mission. Fantastic stuff.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444900811

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London, 2030. Energy wars are consuming the globe now peak oil is past. Britain creaks on with ever-declining influence and is now partly dependent on aid from China. The gap between rich and poor is now so great that the poor (the Outsiders) live in dreadful slums while the rich (the Citizens) spend most of their time plugged into the net, experiencing life as a fantasy. Civil unrest is springing up, only to be ruthlessly put down by the Kossacks, the new security force.

Hunter is a Citizen but finds virtual life deeply unsatisfying. So he escapes into the slums to practise free-running as the favelistas do. It's the only time he feels truly alive. Uma is an Outsider and part of the underground freedom movement. They meet after the Kossacks kill a young free-runner and both witness the crime. Soon, they are engaged in a race to find the new Keeper - the person who protects the codes for the Dreamline, the online resistance network - and the Kossacks will stop at nothing to stop them...

I loved this book. It's a great chase novel, tense and urgent and very exciting. It's also unashamedly political and there are digs aplenty at both the current government and the previous one. Lloyd attacks the failure to deal with global warming, the cuts agenda, nuclear policy, law and order crackdowns and wealth inequalities. Her future London has South American style favelas (slums) living side-by-side with unbelievable privilege. But even the privileged live under the heel of the security force's rather unpleasant boot. And Lloyd makes it quite clear that she thinks this is the direction in which we are heading.

Whatever you think of these politics (I'm inclined to agree with them), it's refreshing to find a book that addresses them head on with a genuine opinion offered for kids to consider. Teenagers aren't stupid and they are quite capable of forming their own views - especially if they're given the honest views of others. And the politics, while giving a strong flavour to the book, never detract from the plot or the pace. Momentum will appeal to a huge range of teenagers - from the politically aware smarting from the rise in tuition fees and the withdrawal of EMA, to those who just want to read a brilliant conspiracy-based chase novel.

Highly recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Hodder for sending the book.

Everybody should read Saci Lloyd's The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd - which covers the same ground but in a satirical way. Other great books about a rather unpleasant near future include The Witness by James Jauncey and Dark Life by Kat Falls. Free running also features in Danger Zone: Ice Claw by David Gilman.

Booklists.jpg Momentum by Saci Lloyd is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2011.

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