Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Review: Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Publication Date: August 27th 2015
Source: Borrowed from the library 

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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.

I recently picked up this book from the library as I had seen the cover on Instagram a few times and the blurb made me really want to pick it up. 

Concentr8 read almost like a film for me. I loved the way Sutcliffe wrote in so many characters point of views, from the five main characters, the captive, the mayor, the journalist etc all giving the reader a more 360 view of the plot. I also felt this gave the reader much more information on the characters and their back story while also giving each character depth. 

I thought the plot was interesting. It was a little slow at the end but kept me entertained from the beginning. I found the plot around the ADHD medication Concentr8 really entertaining and found the extracts at the beginning of each chapter from interviews about the medication really added to the story. 

The characters in this novel were really vivid and stood out. Blaze, the leader of the gang, was really a vivid and intimidating character. His relationship with Karen sometimes brought out the worst in her, but I liked his relationship with Troy they had such a strong bond. The journalist was another character I liked. I liked the way the author portrayed her desire to succeed and her ambition. The captive's perspective chapters were really well written, and the longer he was held hostage, the more we could see just how it was affecting him.

I did enjoy the novel but I felt that it dragged in places. The ending left me very unsatisfied and with a feeling of wanting more. 

This novel is gritty, thought provoking and fast paced. Highly recommend it for fans of Sophie McKenzie novels or fans of films such as Trainspotting or Football Factory. 

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