Blade: Running Scared by Tim Bowler
|Blade: Running Scared by Tim Bowler|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The latest instalment continues Blade's claustrophobic escape from, well, seemingly almost everyone. Bowler is starting to let some detail through at last. It's fantastic stuff; tense, colloquial, enigmatic, and utterly addictive.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: April 2009|
I am addicted to Blade. There, I said it. This admittedly slim thriller has been in my house for less than a week and all four Murphys have read it already. Reviewer Murphy had to fight off the other three to get in first. It's the fourth in Tim Bowler's series about fourteen-year-old on the run and it's just getting better and better and better.
The last "episode" saw Blade escaping from hospital, terribly injured, and with his usual alertness dulled by fear and pain. But his enemies were closing in, and if it weren't for help from Mary and a mysterious motorbike rider, he'd have been caught for sure. This time, he's among a group of people he knows but doesn't necessarily trust. He's started to fear his knife and attachments to the child Jaz and the old lady Mary are troubling his conscience. It's not all about his own escape any more; it's about protecting them, too...
It's dark; it's tense; it's exciting. Blade narrates his story in a stream of consciousness style and it's a book you really cannot put down. We do find out a little more about Blade's past although it's still tantalisingly mysterious, but at least we do come to understand Mary's part in it all. I suppose the narrative itself is like one of those conspiracy chase thrillers, where an heroic Harrison Ford escapes the CIA no matter how many men they throw at him. But we know Blade isn't an innocent, even though we are rooting for him as we watch him struggle with his consience. We all deserve a second chance, right? The possibly unreliable narration, though, gives us the feel of the TV series Lost, as we try to work out exactly how Blade came to be in the situation he's in. But the boy is as slippery to the reader as he is to the people who are after him and answers are hard to find.
The whole thing is absolutely compelling and so beautifully done. Blade has his own argot - policemen are porkers and there are gobbos and dronks and grinks. Blade knows the difference. I like this, it reminds me of A Clockwork Orange - sorry, I'm over-referencing, I know, but I want you to see just how good this series is - in that it keeps things real, but also puts a barrier between this incredibly powerful narrative and the reader. It's at once intimate and strange, and it's certainly addictive.
I don't know how far Bowler intends to go with Blade, and if he'll ever find redemption, but I do know I'm in for the entire haul, and I can't help hoping it's not all over too soon.
Highly, highly recommended.
My thanks to the nice people at OUP for sending the book.
If they're not into Blade only because the books are short, they might also enjoy Being by Kevin Brooks, which reprises the themes of Blade Runner to stunning effect and has a similarly claustrophobic and doom-laden feel.
Blade: Running Scared by Tim Bowler is in the Top Ten Books To Drag The Kids Away From Computer Games For Ten Minutes At Least.
Tim Bowler was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.