Jo Klaces chooses teenage reads that are jam-packed with action and intrigue
The Boys Who Saved the World
Faber and Faber pound;6.99
These are as sizzling, crackling, rip rapping a pair of books as I have read within the space of one week, with so much energy expended I feel quite limp. In Omega Place the focus is squarely on the issues raised by the proliferation of CCTV cameras in our towns and cities.
The novel starts with the moment parents dread: the knock at the door from the police, bringing news of the death of Paul Hendry, their 17-year-old son. The book retraces Paul's journey the previous month from Newcastle to London in the form of diary-like accounts from various viewpoints.
Omega Place is a group dedicated to damaging CCTV cameras, which Paul joined more through attraction to one of the group's members than from personal commitment to the cause. The trouble is that the cameras are such blunt instruments, they cannot tell the stories behind each person they incriminate. The story twists and turns, forcing the reader to think and all is not as clear as the evidence might suggest.
The Boys Who Saved the World are a strange bunch of misfits, bedecked with problem parents, medical illness, anger issues and an odd take on the way the world might be saved from sin and suffering.
The story centres on Jon, 16, a lapsed Christian who joins the Brotherhood of Hebetheus. This new religion's six youthful members are determined to stop the spread of terrorism by capturing a hostage who, they mistakenly believe, is going to carry out a bombing raid on their school.
As the book hurtles towards its bloody denouement without pause for breath, it contemplates the dangers of cod philosophies, the power of fear and ritual incompetence. I wondered how even this bunch of unfortunates couldn't see through the leader who asked them to sign up to a Peace Bill that states that all terrorists must be executed. But maybe that's the point: zealots don't do irony. Not one for the fainthearte *
Jo Klaces teaches English in Birmingham