Unstoppable by Dan Freedman

Unstoppable by Dan Freedman

A story about twins who are unstoppable: the title also describes what happens when you open this book – start reading and you won’t be able to stop!

Kaine wants to be the next football megastar. He has the talent too. There’s just one problem. He’s not the only potential sporting star in his family. His twin sister, Roxy, is on the path to tennis superstardom. Since he lost his job, their dad has one focus – getting Roxy to Wimbledon. Meanwhile, their mum is working every possible hour just to make ends meet. Kaine feels totally alone. Abandoned. His brash attitude and ongoing feud with Roxy only makes matters worse. Family relationships are stretched to breaking point and Kaine finds himself increasingly pulled into the gang culture of the estate where he lives. Roxy, in contrast, feels like she is being suffocated by her dad’s dreams and, when her life is turned upside down, she struggles to cope. Will the twins be able to reconcile their differences and come together before their family and their lives are torn apart for good?

I am struggling to decide what type of story this is. Is it a teen thriller with a gripping and cleverly constructed plot? Or is it a unputdownable character-driven YA story that explores important issues and themes? I think the reason I am struggling is because it is both in roughly equal measure.

If the book doesn’t fit neatly into a category, it also doesn’t follow a standard structure. There are no neat chapters, told from a single point of view. Instead, the book is split into four distinct parts and, within each part, into the day of the week. Within each day we often have multiple viewpoints. (And, incredibly, there wasn’t one moment when I was confused whose viewpoint I was in).

I haven’t done an analysis but Kaine’s viewpoint seems to appear most often, followed closely by Roxy. (There are also interesting sections from the viewpoint of the twin’s mother, Samantha, and the Deputy Principal of  Compton Academy, Noel Kerrigan.) The slight skew towards Kaine’s perspective, might be why I found Kaine easiest to empathise with. This is helped, perhaps, by the skilful use of flashbacks to the time Kaine spend with his grandmother, Remmy – or Mamma as she liked to be known to grandchildren. Kaine might be outwardly loud and brash but this gives the reader a direct insight into his fears and insecurities.

The title page states that the story was ‘Inspired by True Events’. If I have one gripe with this book, it is that it doesn’t go on to explain which aspects were inspired by true events and I’m desperate to know. I’m guessing it’s the plot line around the twin’s uncle’s untimely death but it could equally be the competition between the two talented twins. I can only hope that author, Dan Freedman, might at some point put me out of my misery and add something on his website that explains. (It’s www.danfreedman.co.uk in case you want to check and let me know if he does!)

If you enjoyed this, you might also like Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence or, for a shorter read, why not try Kerb Stain Boys: The Crongton Broadway Robbery by Alex Wheatle.

ISBN:  978-1788450492
Date: February 2020
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 368
Author’s website: Dan Freedman

Madge's 4.5/5 Star Review Rating

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