Hard-hitting tales

21st September 2007 at 01:00
Jo Klaces selects books that handle war, cruelty and violence


Craig Simpson

Corgi Books



David Thorpe

Harper Collins

Children's Books


Inside the Cage

Matt Whyman

Simon and Schuster


Resistance is set in Norway, under the Nazi Occupation in the Second World War, and focuses on the struggle between the native resistance (MILORG), the Quislings (collaborators) and the Gestapo, as seen by teenage brothers Marek and Olaf.

The novel does not shy from how brutal the war was for individuals on both sides and it faces up to the horror of the kind of dilemmas that faced members of the Resistance, knowing that doing something would mean their countrymen would suffer, just as much as doing nothing.

However, this doesn't stop the book being a terrific romp full of car chases, explosions, stiff upper lips and U-boats; fans of films starring Bruce Willis (or David Niven) should love it.

Hybrids tells the story of 15-year-olds Johnny and Kestrella, who sometime in the future suffer from Creep, a virus that has caused many of the youth of Britain to take on the features of the technology they have become so attached to. Thus Kestrella's arm and fingers are a mobile phone and Johnny's face is a computer monitor.

The story follows the pair through multiple vicissitudes: there are many who seek to destroy these Hybrids, as they are called, and their parents, as so often in teen fiction, are useless and obstructive. It's an inventive story that stays this side of credible, with likely appeal for younger teens.

Carl, 17, has been put Inside the Cage for questioning for hacking into the security systems of Fort Knox. He has been promised a safe return, but the promise proves difficult to keep.

The internment camp in the Arctic Circle is a place where Mother Nature is crueller than man, and the tale turns into a sort of iced Con Air as one of the more brutal inmates escapes.

Extreme violence and chaos ensues, and Carl has to use all his virtual reality skills to try and bring about a real-world rescue. Matt Whyman gives us a tense, extravagantly well plotted, fantastical, yet utterly credible story that is full of life, pace, tension and wry uplift.

A great book that deftly addresses computer geeks, all-action devotees and young people who might have views on the ethics of internmen *

Jo Klaces teaches English in Birmingham

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