SFX - - Reviews - Jayne Nelson

re­leased 7 April 416 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook

Au­thor Alan Cumyn

Pub­lisher Si­mon & Schus­ter

Chil­dren’s There’s no deny­ing this book prob­a­bly has the catchi­est ti­tle of the year, not to men­tion a truly stun­ning cover. Your first in­stinct will be to as­sume that it can’t live up to ei­ther – and in a way, you’d be right.

Yes, it’s aimed at the Young Adult mar­ket and is a comin­gof- age tale fea­tur­ing a teenage girl fall­ing for an un­usual new boy at her school. Yes, said new­bie is ir­re­sistible, de­spite be­ing “dif­fer­ent”. And yes, it’s got all the usual teen tropes.

But... Some­thing here is as “off ” as a ptero­dactyl named Pyke go­ing to classes. Our nar­ra­tor, school busy­body Shiels, isn’t the av­er­age ev­ery­girl you usu­ally find in th­ese kind of sto­ries; if any­thing, she’s bloody an­noy­ing. She doesn’t spend the en­tire book star­ing into Pyke’s eyes: she only oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­acts with him. And the tone, far from be­ing jokey or wry as the ti­tle would sug­gest, is down­beat, even un­pleas­ant. This isn’t a fun, comedic romp; it’s as psy­cho­log­i­cally dis­turb­ing as, well, dat­ing a leath­ery rep­tile in real life.

All of this ac­tu­ally makes the book both fas­ci­nat­ing and re­pel­lent – and much harder to dis­miss than you’d ex­pect. Quite a feat.

Sci­en­tists es­ti­mate that the largest pterosaurs could go 67mph. To­day, a pere­grine fal­con can reach 200mph.

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