THE TRANSFER. Terence Blacker. Macmillan pound;9.99.
The streets of Vancouver are a jungle for young Declan in The Edge - a tangle of graffiti, danger and violent death. In the first in Bloombury's new series of tales about daredevil sports, he's snatched away by a social worker to the Big Hills and the care of wrinkled old Big Foot, an Indian snowboarding expert and homespun philosopher ("To understand the mountains, we must first understand ourselves, my young friend").
Beneath the in-yer-face dialogue, snowboarding jargon and the setting of the Rockies, this is really an old-fashioned moral tale of a lost urban youth finding himself through the challenge of the wilds.
The Transfer blends football and computers while playing wittily with ideas and language. Our hero, Stanley, wills a football player to life from a computer game - and the mystery striker Lazlo is born, with Stanley's bewildered mind racing inside his body. Lazlo's exploits keep relegation-threatened City in the top flight, reunite Stanley's mum and dad, and produce a mildly risque episode when Miss Tysoe, Stanley's teacher and an equally rabid City fan, falls for LazloStanley and, for complex reasons, allows him to pass the night at her house.