Silenced by Simon Packham
|Silenced by Simon Packham|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Simon Packham's new novel tackles a difficult subject with warmth and a surprising amount of humour. Superb. Simon Packham popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: June 2012|
|Publisher: Piccadilly Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Soon after the death of his best friend and comedy double-act partner Declan, Chris loses the ability to speak. The rest of his class are initially sympathetic but quickly turn on him – with the exceptions of new boy Will, and Declan’s ex-girlfriend Ariel. Can Chris find his voice – and tell someone what actually happened on the night that Declan died?
I was very keen to read this after Packham’s superb debut really impressed me. If anything, this one is even better – he tackles a difficult subject with warmth, tact, and a surprising amount of humour. Part of the reason it’s so successful is that Packham’s characters, even the minor ones, are spellbindingly, compellingly real. He captures the mood of the students after the tragedy, with the initial shock and grief quickly being replaced by black humour from those who didn’t know Declan well, perfectly.
As for the main characters – particularly narrator Chris, his family, and the enchanting Ariel, who lives with her mother as self-sufficiently as possible, shunning cash and preferring to barter – they’re wonderful. Even Declan shines through brilliantly despite the novel starting after his death – it’s written in second person, in the form of a monologue from Chris to Declan, and this style works perfectly because we can see just how much Chris cared about his best friend.
I also love the length of Packham’s books – they’re short, punchy, and so pacy that he fits a huge amount into a novel which is perhaps half the length of some other teen novels out there. That’s lucky – because they’re so hard to put down that once you start reading one, you’re bound to be desperate to see it through to the end in one go!
Really strong recommendation as being up there as one of the best teen contemporary novels of the year so far. I can’t wait to read Packham’s next book!
Another of the year's top teen contemporaries so far, Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt, also tackles the aftermath of a car crash. It's definitely one you shouldn't miss.
Simon Packham was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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