Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Lark by Anthony McGowan

review by Maryom

It's years since Nicky and Kenny last saw their mum, but now she's on her way to visit, arriving by plane any day soon. She left when they were young, and a lot has changed since, so while they're hyped up at the prospect of her coming home, Nicky, in particular, is partly dreading her arrival too. To fill the waiting, the boys decide to head off to the moors, just like their dad used to in the days before computers and video games. It'll be fun, a lark. They might even see one (a lark, that is), singing as it rises into the sky.
But things go wrong ...
The weather turns from dull to sleet to snowstorm, and Kenny and Nicky find themselves cold, hungry and possibly lost. A short cut seems like a good idea, but isn't, and the boys find themselves in a situation that's getting worse by the minute.

Lark is the fourth, and last, story following the adventures of Nicky and Kenny, and what an end to the series it is! Presented in a font and format to encourage reluctant, struggling or dyslexic readers, Lark is a nail-biting, heart-pounding, poignant read suitable for any young teenager. It's a story in which to lose yourself, to feel you're there on the moors, lost, wet and starting to be terrified, fearing, along with Nicky, how, and if, he's going to get out of this latest scrape. (I imagine that afterwards a lot of readers will be all 'I'd never have done anything so stupid. I'd have got us safely home, no problem' but don't disrupt them in the middle)
The story is told from Nicky's point of view and McGowan gets inside his mind in a way that makes you feel he clearly remembers being a teenager - messing about with mates, getting dumped by his girlfriend, hastily disguising his rude drawings - and, away from the danger, it's funny, especially in an appealing-to-teen-boys way (though I laughed regardless of who it's aimed at).  At the same time there's a great sense of family and belonging running throughout, a sense there's a bond between the two brothers that nothing could break.

If you haven't met Nicky and Kenny before it doesn't really matter, their story-so-far is filled in enough for you to read Lark, and without spoilers for the previous books. But if you'd like to read their story in full the first three novellas have been collected in one volume 'The Truth of Things'.

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

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