Friday 10 April 2020

The Tell

The Tell by Martin Chatterton (Puffin Books) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9781760895945

Reviewed by B J Hatton

Described by the publisher as ‘an action-packed coming-of-age story in the vein of Two Wolves or a young Boy Swallows Universe,’ this latest book by Chatterton sizzles with energy and action. Never for a moment does it slacken pace, right to the last page.

Rey ‘Raze’ Tanic is unlike other 14-year-old boys in that his father is a mafia boss who is in prison. Raze, meanwhile, along with his besties Candy, a girl he fancies, and African Ids, is a graffiti artist at night and a grammar school student by day. He’s determined not to get into crime like his father, but after a dramatic prison escape by his father, Raze nose-dives into a series of near-death situations, each more unexpected and brutal than the last. Not only are Raze's nerves shredded beyond recognition but so too are ours as his home and life is systematically destroyed. On the run, homeless and confused as to why his dad has suddenly abandoned the family, it's Raze's close affiliation with corruption that hones his instincts for survival.

It might sound completely implausible that a trio of 14-year-olds could riddle and dodge their way through a seething mess of iniquitous deception but Chatterton's razor-sharp narrative style and cutting teen voice flip unlikely into, 'Can I come too?'As Raze is sucked into a sinister vortex of nastiness, he and his friends each face their own baptism of fire; for Candy, being the daughter of the head of police is not as idealistic as it seems. Chatterton loops brutal reality and disconsolate yearnings into complex character patterns. It's thrilling getting to watch these kids unravel and then find themselves again.

The pace of The Tell is frantic, the plot lines just as absorbing. This can’t-put-it-down novel is sure to be eagerly devoured by teenagers aged 12+ years.

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