A strong character-driven, cleverly plotted story, that’s dyslexia friendly too. What more could you want?
Would you give up your phone for six weeks to earn £1,000? This is the offer that eccentric entrepreneur, Dame Irene Irvine, makes to Esther’s year at school. A surprising number of students barely consider it. Six weeks out of the social-media loop – no sharing photos, no group messages – is not something they’re prepared to consider. Others start the challenge but quickly drop out. Esther, however, is determined to see it through despite the constant temptation to reconnect. That £1,000 could allow her to connect in person to people she’s desperate to see – it’s her airfare to New York to visit her dad, sister and baby nephew. But just when she’s close to completing the challenge, events begin to spiral out of her control.
This book has an interesting and gripping premise that is likely to intrigue teen readers whilst also making them shudder at the thought of life without their phone. As an older reader who remembers life without the internet and mobile phones, it’s also an interesting insight into how technology is used by young people today and I can only assume author, Keren David, did a lot of research.
Esther is an appealing character whose narrative voice quickly sucks us into the story and she’s also surrounded by a strong cast of supporting characters. I particularly liked her mum and the way it’s obvious that mum’s almost as internet and phone addicted as the younger generation. However, the character I loved the most has to be River. He’s an intriguing and strong character in his own right but even more so because some readers, like myself, may already know some of this backstory (he’s the viewpoint character from another wonderful Barrington Stoke book from Keren David – The Liar’s Handbook.)
The plotting is solid and keeps the reader interested – to the extent that I opened this book intending to read just a few pages and ended up reading right to the end. Admittedly it is only 120 pages long but I did have a lot to do on my ‘to do’ list that evening.
The best thing about the plot (and what I’ve come to realise is a characteristic of Barrington Stoke’s teen reads) is the incredibly clever plot twist. I simply didn’t see it coming but it works perfectly. And, better still, it manages to subtly make another interesting point about the internet-driven world in which we live. (Sorry, to say more would give too much away).
There is an underlying theme focused on the potential advantages of less screen time (better grades, stronger friendships, more confidence and more time for other interests) but it’s not heavy handed and this remains a strong character-driven, cleverly plotted read. It’s dyslexia friendly too. What more could you want?
If you enjoyed this, why not try one of the other books that Keren David has written for Barrington Stoke. I’d definitely recommend The Liar’s Handbook or why not try True Sisters.
Date: April 2019
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Website: Keren David