Thursday 29 September 2011

Naked - Kevin Brooks

Naked – Kevin Brooks

Pages:  362 (ARC)
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Release Date: 6th October 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Martyn Pig, Lucas, Kissing the Rain, Bloodline, Candy, The Road of the Dead, Being, Black Rabbit Summer, Killing God, iBoy

London, 1976: It was the summer of so many things. Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney – the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid.

I’ve kept William’s secrets for a long time, but now things have changed and I have to tell the truth. But I can't begin until I've told you about Curtis Ray. Hip, cool, rebellious, Curtis Ray. Without Curtis there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

It’s the story of our band, of life and death...and everything in between.

Kevin Brooks is one of the UK’s best authors of gritty, realistic and unflinchingly honest young adult fiction and Naked is one of the best examples of his work.

Firstly, I have to admit that I expected Naked to be told by the perspective of a male narrator. I was wrong. And I was surprised by just how young she was when she met Curtis, joined Naked and all of this went down. Lili is thrown in at the deep end and made to grow up very, very fast. Her relationship became serious and messy, her social life hectic and her home life stressful.

In the early stages of Lili and Curtis’ relationship, Lili acted like a love-struck teenage girl, which she was, and allowed Curtis to be an arsehole. As it changed and developed and Lili realised that she deserved better and began to see just how unhealthy their relationship was, she began to stick up for herself. This evolution made me really like Lili and catapulted her off the page with her genuineness and strength and straight into my heart.

Behind the struggles of Lili lies a London on the brink of change: the punk movement. Kevin Brooks evoked this pivotal time so beautifully that I felt I was right there in the centre of things alongside Lili, Curtis and William. The danger, the freedom and the utter unknown of the movement is captured perfectly. One of the strengths of Kevin Brooks is his portrayal of a gritty and unflinchingly honest situation and in Naked that only added to the grimy feel of the story and enhanced the atmosphere.

As well as the punk movement, there was something else going on in Britain in the 1970s: the troubles in Ireland. You’re probably wondering what on earth that has to do with a punk band in London, and I was surprised too, but it played a rather substantial part. I have to admit that I’ve never really understood what went on and why, and I still don’t, but this background to the novel provided another angle that was very unexpected.

I love Kevin Brooks’ novels and I always look forward to whatever he writes.

A huge thank you to Puffin for providing me with a review copy.


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