Friday, 26 August 2011

Junk - Melvin Burgess

ISBN: 0140380191

This book is as addictive as its subject matter. Somewhat controversial, Junk is a novel aimed at teenagers that tells the truth about drugs, particularly heroin, the highs, the lows, the good, the bad, and the devastating, without being patronising or glib. As with most teen fiction, this is more than capable of speaking deeply to adults.

The split-viewpoint prose is canny, and we slip seamlessly behind the eyes of almost each character we come across. Burgess achieves this with poise, if not with subtlety, and the pace trots along with the speed of the young peoples' lives.

At times, however, I found the teenage language a little forced and a little anachronistic with the time period (the mid 80s). Also, the varying characters increasingly address the reader directly, which is confusing and irritating.

This work speaks of freedom; its strengths and its limits. Burgess explores addiction in many forms and the weakness of human beings. What holds this novel together is love; its ability to liberate, to capture, to intoxicate and to heal.

Rating: 8/10

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