Full review of book.

Full review of Teen Valour, I’ll get to the end of the book before posting this on the librarything website and I’ll try and post a proper blog post later tonight.

I received this as a review copy but to be honest, this book wasn’t all I thought it was going to be. It started off fine but quickly started to feel very slow. Around 100 pages in I found myself putting it down, overcome by sudden urges to do something, anything else! (On another note, this book has tidied my bedroom and made a wonderful lemon-sponge cake)

At that point I started to get the feeling that the book had stopped moving. Fine, he’d taken charge of a scout troop (And at this point, that’s still all it seems to be, a scout troop with some good resources) but he could have done that at the start of the book just fine, I didn’t feel that he’d grown as a character at all. He’s also got no faults. He’s kind, he’s caring, he does all his homework on time, he humiliates bullies with ease and never loses his temper, all at the same time as managing to come up with amazing plans nobody ever would have thought of and always saving the day. He gets humiliated once or twice but it always feels forced and out-of-character.

Coupled with that, the dialogue is very robotic, it’s rare that a character will say “I’m going out” It’s nearly always “I am going out” “I am feeling better” “She is not going to be happy that she has to have braces.” It feels like all the effort was poured into Adam and all the rest of the characters are being played by the same couple of cheap actors.

My final gripes are that a lot of the sentences sound redundant and names get a bit overused. 120~ pages in you get “Back at home in the cottage Adam’s mother and his sister Gilly insisted that he sat with them-” This is halfway through the book! We know everyone’s names already, you don’t need to keep repeating them. The next few paragraphs (Bottom of Page 135 and top of 136) both contain “No way Adam.” (Sister) and “You must be tired Adam. Do you have any homework that needs completing?” (Mother) This is a conversation between the three of them and it just feels slightly contrived, as if the author feels you’ll forget his name the moment it stops being mentioned in every other sentence and as if he wants to rush past the dialogue and onto the next exciting bit. This doesn’t improve as the book goes on either, sometimes it got so bad I just had to put the book down and take a break out of frustration.

“I know you must be tired, but have you done your homework?”
“Are you tired, Adam? If you haven’t done your homework then maybe you should do it now”
“Did you do your homework while you were away? You’ve had a very long weekend”
“Have you caught up on your homework, Adam? You look exhausted/wrecked/tired/sleepy/just like your great aunt Mary”
– (nearly) all of those would have conveyed the same message but in a much more casual way. I tried to finish the book, I really did, but I just found the speech too distracting. Maybe if I’d read further I would have discovered a plot-twist where it turns out his entire life is a simulation, he’s living in the Matrix and everyone surrounding him is an NPC, but I don’t think that’s the case.

Somewhere under all the faults, with a little more detail of scenery, the dialogue cleaned up by a good editor and the pacing sped up, there’s a good story, but I don’t think it’s entirely there yet. Some younger readers may enjoy it, but I think most adults will expect more.

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