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Review: Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias

DfekKqhWsAAzJ7nIt’s lovely when you discover a new book by accident rather than hype. In this case, Tracey is a regular customer with excellent taste in YA novels. And has written one I have proudly added to our shelves – and so should you!

Set in the very near future, England is a place of totalitarianism and suspicion. It is ruled by The Party, a far-right version of the worst of any right-leaning existing political groups, who have clamped down on anyone not ‘BB’ (British Born). There is an underlying atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust in every area of life from school to work, on public transport and online.

Think Nineteen Eighty Four with teenagers. But much more believable. And terrifying.

There’s Ash, a teen obsessed with calculating the passage of time in seconds, mourning the unexpected death of his sister Sophie. And Zara, homeschooled and under the radar, never without her copies of The Four Quartets and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.  Their paths cross during a blackout on the Underground in Camden but their stories are already linked via Ash’s sister Sophie. A chance meeting, a tragic death, dangerous secrets, unknowing betrayal all conflate for this potentially doomed couple. Yes, it’s a love story which nicely lightens the oppressive political tension. The romance is slowly built up, contrasting with a few fast-paced ‘cat and mouse’ sequences with real tension and peril. The teenage protagonists are likeable and believable; they are neither idealised or outrageously flawed. Similarly, parents are both flawed and heroic. (I particularly liked Ash’s dad’s flash new car always referred to as ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’)

What is Zara’s secret? How will Ash react? What happened to Sophie on the night of the party? Will The Party find them?

This is certainly a novel for now, for a society which fears the ‘other’ and seeks to close borders rather than welcome other human beings into a civilised, humane society. At times, the story felt too real; the draconian regime was personal and very, very menacing.

(As an aside, I particularly liked the tying in of Eliot’s The Four Quartets, both his magnificent, mysterious poetry and the setting of Little Gidding. Ironic that we often think of Eliot as a very ‘English’ establishment poet, yet he was an American immigrant, ‘taking’ a respectable publishing job from a BB. My MA thesis was based around 4Q, yet I still cannot say I understand these epic poems; well done to Zara for making some sense of them!)

An excellent read for anyone over the age of, say, twelve; it’s certainly not ‘just’ a YA novel.

Read it – that’s The Party line.

 

Thanks to Scholastic, and to Tracey for a signed, hand delivered copy (and, of course, for writing this story). Looking forward to more YA chats at Waterstones Finchley Road O2…

ISBN 9781407188003

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Posted by on 02/07/2018 in review

 

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Reading Week Day Seven

Ok, it was ambitious to expect to blog every day of my self-imposed ‘reading week’. As is so often at the moment, life with kids gets in the way with governors’ meetings, hospital appointments, and so on in addition to the school runs and general need for the company of their mummy. 

However, I finished reading The Power today. I was expecting it to be as amazing as a Bailey’s prize winning novel could be; it certainly did not disappoint.

With its multiple narrators, movement through the ten years before ‘The Cataclysm’, line drawings of historical artifacts, and amusingly intriguing prologue and epilogue, this is a magnificent book.

With an even tone and quickening pace, and well-realised, wonderfully complex ideas, this novel shows just how accomplished a writer Alderman is.

What would happen if, overnight, women discovered that they had electrical power at their fingertips? Starting with a small number of teens scattered throughout the world, the balance of power is irrevocably altered and civilisation struggles to deal with this. Like the girls’ electrical pulses, the story builds, arcs and explodes spectacularly. 

Alderman details the origins of this power, its effect on certain women, and the world-wide repercussions. It’s scarily believable. 

Despite the serious sounding review so far, this is an immensely readable, fast paced, rollercoaster of a read. It’s excellent. I am not surprised there is talk of a screen adaptation; it’ll be great!

If you’re looking for a thrilling read, more than a flimsy summer fling, a novel with guts and great writing, try The Power

It’ll ‘jolt’ you out of the everyday. It’s a blast!

 
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Posted by on 15/06/2017 in review

 

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Aside

My reading space.
Tea, an assortment of books, hi-fi remote control, a notebook: bliss.

Where I Read (usually)

 
 

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