The class book review: Unstoppable

This story of typical teen angst is elevated by hard-hitting plot twists involving knife crime, our reviewers say

Annie Karatzenis

Tes class book review: Unstoppable by Dan Freedman

Unstoppable

Author: Dan Freedman
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Details: 368 pages; £10.99
ISBN: 978-1788450492

Teacher review

Ponteland High School is in the green and rural county of Northumberland – knife crime is not a major challenge for our school in the way it is for many others across the country. However, reading Unstoppable started an important and very relevant conversation with my Year 10 students.

The story focuses on two twin teenagers, Kaine and Roxy, as they face the usual burdens of teenage life: falling out with one another, disagreeing with their parents, getting in trouble at school, and finding time to be committed to their sporting goals. This part of the story felt very real, and at times it was difficult to hear the twins’ stories, as they grappled with balancing their own emotional wellbeing with the worry of disappointing their parents. 

Using Kaine’s problems with his family, Freedman is able to show how vulnerable children under pressure can be, and how susceptible they are to joining gangs and carrying knives. 

Freedman elevates this story of typical teen life with some hard-hitting plot twists. When Roxy ends up with an injury that leaves her unable to walk and to play her beloved tennis, this is more than a sufficient wake-up call for Kaine to start behaving properly, refocus on his football dreams and spend more quality time with his family. 

The family story is touching throughout, and it was particularly wonderful to see a strong mother protecting her whole family.

Annie Karatzenis is an English teacher at Ponteland High School in Northumberland

Pupil reviews

‘It allows the reader to engage with the mind of a troubled adolescent’

It is absolutely undeniable that the rate of knife crime has heightened dramatically within recent years; however, it is also something that has become taboo to talk about around the age group who are supposedly at the most risk. 

Unstoppable gives us an insight into why such astonishing measures feel like the only option for our youths to feel safe nowadays. This feature is key to the whole storyline, as it allows the reader to engage with the mind of a troubled adolescent struggling with fury towards a dysfunctional family, and to comprehend the grief that strikes the whole family the moment a decision is made to carry a knife, regardless of the circumstances. 

Anna, aged 14
 

‘We feel real sadness’

I really enjoyed how Roxy’s voice was presented throughout the novel with snippets from her diary. Throughout, we see a big shift in Roxy’s emotions, and her love for Kaine and the rest of her family seems to grow towards the end of the story. In the beginning, Roxy tells her diary all of the spiteful things she does to her brother, like ruin his football boots, but from the middle we see a growing worry for Kaine. 

When we read her last passage in her diary, her emotions are very strong. We feel real sadness for her and her family. 

Imogen, aged 14
 

‘Touching’

Throughout the book, we get passages where Kaine and his grandmother are together. Kaine is presented as being much more caring towards Mamma than he is seen to be with any other character in the book. 

One of the most touching passages for me was when Mamma was talking about Kaine’s uncle, Anthony. This is one of the first times we see Mamma really hurt to tell Kaine something as they seem to have always had a good, strong relationship. So, when Kaine notices his grandma’s pain about her son, we see Kaine start to understand and it brings out his sensitivity. When Mamma is telling Kaine the story about how his Uncle Anthony died, after a horrific stabbing, Kaine starts to realise the severity and danger that is just around the corner.

Izzy, aged 14
 

‘This book thrills and excites with a daring plot’

Freedman took advantage of writing from a child’s perspective by actually getting the views and opinions of young minds – a different approach to writing a story about two teens. This was certainly an idea that made the book original and ahead of its time, and gives it a sense of relatability for youngsters like Roxy and Kaine. 

Recommended for tweens and teens alike, this book thrills and excites, while gripping you with a daring plot. The storyline provides insight into once-taboo topics and it will be sure to open your eyes and allow you to delve into the world of teenagers.

Chloe, aged 14


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If you or your class would like to write a review, please contact adi.bloom@tes.com 

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Annie Karatzenis

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