Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Review: Bedlam by Ally Kennen
Our narrator is Lexi, a sixteen year old girl from the kind of family you wouldn't want to live next door to. Her dad runs a shady business that takes him away from home on a regular basis, her brother has an ASBO, and her biggest concern is usually her appearance. Until, that is, she's packed off to stay with her estranged mother for a few weeks. When her mum's beloved dog is abducted while in Lexi's care, she finds herself drawn into the seemingly quiet neighbourhood's shadowy secrets... and a mysterious but borderline feral older boy she's strangely attracted to. Gradually, Lexi is forced to look beyond surface impressions and to confront the truths that lie beneath them.
Drawn almost entirely in shades of grey, the characters in Bedlam range from the mildly odd to the downright twisted. They're vivid and complex and not always easy to like. Even Lexi can be grating, in that real-life way that most people are at times. Yet there are moving moments too, most notably in the development of the initially hostile relationship between Lexi and her mother. There's also a genuine warmth in the way that Lexi relates to Kos - even if she's also motivated by the fact she thinks he's a bit of a hottie. The baddies, on the other hand, are repulsively bad. Lexi, who was never afraid of monsters as a child, points out that real human monsters are the scariest kind - and Bedlam makes a very strong case for her being right.
Bedlam is a strange read; menacing but also shot through with glimmers of humour and hope. Tense and tightly plotted, it's the kind of story that doesn't quite click into place until you've finished it, put it down, and thought about it some more. Luckily, it's also the kind of story that's hard to stop thinking about. Pick it up if you're looking for something a little bit left-field that'll keep you gripped from start to finish.
Out: February 2nd 2009, UK
Thank you to Scholastic for providing a review copy of this book.