Book Review: Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

  • ISIN: 978-1408-866-238
  • Genre: Fiction / YA
  • Publishers: Bloomsbury
  • Price: Rs. 499/- ( I got the book from the publisher for a review)

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn't it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What's good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They're not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick - the only one Blaze really trusts. They're not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random - a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn't even have a good phone - hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They've got a hostage, but don't really know what they want, or why they've done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they - and we - begin to understand why ...This is a book about what how we label children. It's about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It's about how politicians manipulate them. Gripping and controversial reading for fans of Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness.

Behind The book

Source: Goodreads

About the author

William Sutcliffe is a British novelist.

An alumnus of Haberdashers' Aske's School, Sutcliffe started his career with a novel about school life entitled New Boy (1996), which was followed by his best-known work so far, Are You Experienced? (1997), a pre-university gap year novel, in which a group of young Brits travel to India without really knowing what to expect or what to do there. The Love Hexagon (2000) is about six young Londoners who have difficulty committing themselves to a relationship. Bad Influence (2004), is about Olly, a 10 year old growing up in a North London suburb with his family, and the plot centres around the complex knot of his childhood friendships. Sutcliffe's most recent book, Whatever Makes You Happy (2008), is about interfering mothers and men who refuse to grow up.

Sutcliffe's novels could be categorised as humorous. New Boy has much authentic material in it that refers to actual incidents from his life at Haberdashers', although it would be going too far to call it "autobiographical".

In 2009, he donated the short story Sandcastles: A Negotiation to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Sutcliffe's story was published in the 'Fire' collection.

Me thinks

This book has received mixed reviews across the internet yet I read it with an open mind as the cover was something I fell in love with.

When I read the whole book, my heart warmed up to the whole plot as the author has written about young adults who lost in life is what I would like to call them. As someone who comes from a dysfunctional family I can very well relate to the ADD though I never had it. In between those pages I relived a few moments of my troubled childhood and perhaps healed a bit too.

Reading is surely therapeutic. Had I gone by the reviews I would have perhaps never grabbed this one and I am glad I did! This book is a must read for all YA lovers and people who closely relate to teenage / youth related issues in terms of growing up. As someone who has lived in a country like India though I am unable to relate to a lot of things therein, but the underlying sentiments are the same. And that is what makes this book special. It will make you look at children differently!

I enjoyed his narrative and the pace with which he takes us through. For a while, he had almost made me travel to London with the local language heavily peppered in the book with places so well described, you would feel you are watching a movie shot in London.

Recommended for readers across age group who appreciate a well written and nicely researched book on a sensitive topic.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like saffron rose shrikhand - not too sweet, not too bland - perfectly balanced with a lingering aftertaste and a strong smell (of nostalgia /childhood)



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