Brock by Anthony McGowan
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 72th June 2013 by Barrington Stoke
Shelves: books-i-own, young-adult, read-in-2013
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Description via Goodreads:
A bleakly poetic tale about one boy's determination to save a badger cub from the destructive hands of a local gang. When Nicky finds Jezbo and his gang digging up a badger set, there's not a lot he can do to save them. But one badger cub has escaped - can Nicky save it? Another stunning and moving novella in the spirit of Kes from award-winning Anthony McGowan. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers of 12+
Brock was a book that I was sent for review, but I was unsure whether I would be able to read it. Whilst I was definitely intrigued by the description of the book, it also features one of the issues I find hardest to stomach - the abuse of animals. As I saw several people were beginning to pick up and read Brock, I thought it was time for me to be brave and see what the book had to offer.
This is a book that is designed for reluctant readers, or readers with dyslexia in particular - I'm not dyslexic nor reluctant, but I can definitely appreciate the idea, it is fantastic. This is a book that could appeal to anyone (12+) looking for a short read - I can imagine it being great for a quick read when travelling. I was a little concerned that because this was a short book that the quality would suffer, but it didn't. I liked McGowan's writing - it was straight to the point and he didn't shy away from modern teenage problems. There is no holding back as McGowan deals with these issues, however, he somehow also makes it bearable to read - it wasn't so violently graphic that it made me have to put the book down, but it did make an impact. This definitely isn't easy to do, but McGowan did a good job of it. The concise nature of the book did mean that the Brock was a page turner with a very consistent, exciting pace which I never got bored with.
Whilst I don't feel as though the quality of the writing suffered because of the shortness of the book, the book did lack a certain depth which I appreciate whilst reading, and this is the real reason why I haven't given a higher star rating to this book. What we were given was well done - there were several characters that we were introduced to and they all were strong individuals dealing with some serious issues. I enjoyed meeting our main character, Nicky, and it was reasonably easy to connect with him. I admire McGowan's ability to put so much emotion into his story without getting too 'heavy'. There were some definite displays of fragility and some very heart-warming scenes in this book.
Overall, Brock was a great quick read that I would recommend to any young adult. McGowan is a good writer who doesn't waste any words and I would certainly read more by him, whether it was another shorter story or a deeper novel. I love the idea of these novellas and I would definitely recommend Barrington Stoke books to those who are having any sort of difficulty with reading.