"Steve and FranDan - Take On The World"
Author - Ron Butlin
Front Cover Credit - James Hutcheson
Published by Birlinn
Grown - ups who currently come along to our story-times at the Book Worm know that a picture story book I love to read at any opportunity is the very funny "Here comes the Trolls" by Ron Butlin. So I was very excited to be given this book for readers 9-12 ahead of its publication date.
The publishers describe this book as "an adventure story for today's world." Well get fastened in because this is page after page of non-stop action.
Steve, Fran and her twin brother Dan are close friends that have been having problems with cyber-bullies at school. The friends have no idea who is making the hurtful comments but decide that they have had enough of the name calling that keep appearing on their social media pages and decide to build a raft, collect supplies and escape from it all for a few days. This decision leads to a challenging, scary and often dangerous adventure that the friends and Steve's dog Nessie will never forget.
The book has been written for readers 9 - 12 and deals with the struggle of cyber bullies and the impact that it can have on school children.
The Characters .
The friendship is an important part of the story, it is a strong friendship all with very different personalities, especially the twins which shows through when things start to unravel. The three different personalities carries them through and when there are some tough decisions to be made they stick together.
I really enjoyed Fran as a great character a born leader looking for ways of solving obstacles they encounter and when they stumble onto a hidden package and the owners of the package stumble onto them it is Fran who has to come up with a plan to save them all from a terrible fate. It is Fran who organises the few days away and plans what they will take with them and keeps the boys together when things start to unravel.
There is a subtle exploring of Steve's emotions towards his friend Fran. Steve's feelings for Fran begin to change when they are in tight spots and there is nothing like a sense of danger to make you look at someone in a different way. There is a real connection here of the mixed emotions that hormones bring along. All three friends have to tap into all of their emotions but it is Steve's rage, hurt , disappointment, fondness and fear that I really connected with. There is a great moment when he has an opportunity to deal with the Cyber bullies later in the novel and Ron Butlin really taps into the rawness of the feelings you would have towards those who had caused you so much hurt that you had needed to run away.
The PlotFriendships and action/ adventure with a very large helping of bad people in the mix.
The best laid plans are never quite as straight forward as you might hope and Steve, Fran and Dan are no different to anyone else. When the friends leave everything behind for a few days Steve cannot leave his mobile phone behind even though the bullies have made him miserable, the pull of social media has him checking on what the bullies are saying about their disappearance much to Fran's confusion.They lose their raft in less than 24 hours and their tent and have to find shelter else where. An old hermit cave seems perfect until they discover something buried in the cave and the owners of that discovery arrive and everything begins to get very scary from then on in. The cyber bullies as I have already mentioned do get dealt with as do the criminals but I am not going to reveal anymore.
There were so many times in my Secret Seven/Famous Five days of reading that I dreamt of collecting a few tins and sneaking away for a few days in a tent, the thought of an adventure for a few days. Who wouldn't escape from all the madness of school life and just be with people you like? It all sounds perfect. Fishing, chatting, swimming in rivers and camping under the stars. Steve, Fran and Dan have the same plan and even make it happen but of course all the best laid plans....
I couldn't put this book down it is absolutely jammed packed with adventure and action and there are lots of twist and turns to keep you guessing what is going to happen next.
5 Star rating from the Book Worm.
This fantastic new novel is on sale from Thursday 25th May and your Book Worm will be stocking it. Feel free to reserve a copy from your favourite Indie Book Shop by sending Lesslie an e-mail thebookwormatselkirk@gmail