Thursday 9 May 2013

Teen-read book review : Raining Fire - Alan Gibbons

Raining Fire is a gripping novel that takes a fresh look at life in Britain's underprivileged inner cities and the rival gangs that wreak havoc on them. Eastenders recently tackled this same issue in a tough storyline featuring teenager Liam Butcher who was first lured into joining in with a gang, principally out of boredom and through searching for a sense of belonging and identity, then found himself being harassed and even stabbed when he wanted to get out. The underlying message for teen viewers was don't go there - it's easy enough to get in but once you do, there's no way out.

Raining Fire goes one step further and shows that sometimes, people get dragged into the gangs almost kicking and screaming despite their best intentions. The plot centres around two brothers, ambitious Ethan who has a promising future ahead of him as a professional footballer and big brother Alex who seems to attract trouble and is already far too involved with the local bad boys. They seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum but a cruel twist of fate and the far-reaching grip of the gangs' influence means that neither boy can escape the trouble, getting deeper and deeper into the hellish tit-for-tat violence of the gangs fighting to control their neighbourhood.

The atmosphere is sinister and there is a lot of aggression and violence but none of it is graphic so it won't shock younger readers' sensibility. I found the whole book to be a tense page-turner right up until the end, which I thought was little weak, but I suppose it is aimed at teens so a happy ending, however seemingly unlikely, is for the best.

Author Alan Gibbons, who is often a visiting speaker and lecturer in schools and colleges, explains in his author's note at the beginning of the book that he wanted to explore the world of gangs without being judgemental or glamourising it and I think he's succeeded. It's a thought-provoking read that could lead to some interesting discussions with teen readers.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Indigo (7 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780620276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780620275
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Children's book review : Children of the Wild - Giles Milton

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