Friday, 15 May 2015

Pike by Anthony McGowan

 review by Maryom

The Bacon Pond is known for the killer pike that lurk in the depths - they're even said to attack unwary swimmers! At least, these are the tales that Nicky tells to his big brother Kenny. What they're about to discover on a fishing trip there will put even the wildest tales of man-eating pike to shame - lurking just below the surface is the body of a local criminal Mick Bowen, and on his pale, stick-like hand, glitters the gold of a Rolex watch. Nicky thinks of the watch's value, of all he could do and buy with that kind of money, of how he feels Mick Bowen owes him and his family for causing trouble for his dad, and of how, if Mick Bowen's already dead, taking the watch can't be stealing.....can it?

The aim of publishers Barrington Stoke is to get children and teens reading by offering them stories that they can't put down, in a format to entice the reluctant, struggling or dyslexic reader - and Pike certainly lives up to that aim. First and foremost, it does what all books should - engage and entertain the reader.
Readers of McGowan's Carnegie longlisted Brock with be familiar with brothers Kenny and Nicky, and here they are back in a hunt for sunken treasure - well, at least, fishing a dead man's watch out of the pond. Their dad has banned them from swimming in the pond, which saves them from having to face the killer pike, but without swimming or use of a boat how can they reach the watch? Sometimes you'll laugh, sometimes you'll be on the edge of your seat, as Nicky finds himself enticed into doing things that he knows are a little bit stupid; normally Nicky has to look after Kenny, but this time it's Kenny who comes to his aid.

Would I call it a thriller? Maybe - it's certainly got the tense 'what will happen next - will he make it or will he get caught?' feel of one, with some nice twists and turns at the end. Add to that a couple of moral dilemmas for Nicky to work through (and a swipe at the 'close the libraries' attitude of so many councils) and there's plenty to engage the reader and leave them with food for thought.

A brilliant read for any teenager..

..... and in case I haven't convinced you, you can read the first chapter here on the Barrington Stoke website

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Barrington Stoke
Genre - teenage/teenage reluctant readers

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