Kevin Brooks lives in Manningtree, Essex. He has won the Branford Boase Award and been shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Book Trust Teenage book of the Year.
Gr 9 Up-Joe is boring. He lives in a comfortable London suburb. He does alright in school, but shows no real promise. He plays in a band, but is less than passionate about music. Then he meets Candy. She is 16, beautiful, addicted to heroin, and a prostitute. She's also the only girl ever to look at him twice. He convinces himself that he loves her, and tries to get her off smack and the streets. Her enormous, terrifying pimp is very unhappy with Joe, and tries to murder him and everyone he loves. Brooks's plotting is masterful, and the action twists and builds to a frenzied and violent climax. Unfortunately, much of the book leading to this climax is filled with Joe's simpering, prosaic inner monologues. The author embellishes the teen's narration with stanzas of fragment or one-word sentences, which are more pretentious than dramatic or pointed. For all the fuss made over her, Candy's character is underdeveloped. If readers assume the book isn't about her, but how she changes Joe, her lack of nuance makes some sense. The shame is that he is the same humorless robot before and after risking his life for her. The minor characters-Joe's sassy sister and her tough, good-guy boyfriend-are so smartly and lightly drawn that they elicit more emotion than Joe and Candy.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"... a story as sharp as the title is sweet, with something dark lurking inside and no cosy answers... Some words of warning: Candy may hook you too. GUARDIAN * Brooks is one of the best young adult writers around. Get this book. Word-of-mouth will do the rest. IRISH TIMES"
Versatile English author Brooks (Martyn Pig; Lucas) infuses his latest tale with a romantic-even mythic-grandeur sure to enthrall his fans. While in London for a doctor's appointment, suburban 15-year-old Joe (whose authentically adolescent first-person narration will immediately engage readers) encounters Candy, a bold and intoxicatingly attractive young woman. Their brief flirtation comes to an abrupt halt by the appearance of menacing Iggy (a somewhat over-the-top villain-"He towered over the table like a steel-black giant"-with a penchant for offering to give people "smiles," i.e. cut throats), who seems to have a powerful hold over Candy. Brooks does a convincing job of portraying Joe as desperately smitten, aware that his love object is a prostitute with a serious drug habit, yet pulled into her dangerous world in spite of himself. Joe passes one idyllic day with Candy at the zoo and, like an addict, spends the rest of the book in pursuit of that same feeling of bliss. He invites her to his band's gig (he's a bass guitarist) at a London club where a terrifying appearance by Iggy results in the teens ultimately fleeing to a remote cottage owned by Joe's family. The author credibly conveys scenes of Candy's withdrawal from heroin and also the underlying terror that the couple's momentary safety could shatter in an instant. Brooks offers no easy answers. This story's gritty street smarts will keep thrill-seekers more than entertained, while Joe's orphic rescue mission into the netherworld of addiction gives more thoughtful readers plenty to ponder. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.