The border's closed, Jake said. No one can get into Scotland, just like no one can cross the Channel . . .This is England and it's no longer a free country. The Government can track anyone, anywhere, from a chip implanted at birth. But Jake has escaped from his Academy orphanage, and he's got to get to Scotland with his dog, Jet. When the Outwalkers gang grabs him, they go off-grid while the Government hunts for them. The closer they get to Scotland, the more dangerous it is. Because now, it's not only their own lives that are at stake . . .
Outwalkers, by my local author Fiona Shaw, will walk out into the literary wilderness on the 1st February 2018. This is another fantastic book published by David Fickling and the team featuring a brilliant book jacket illustrated by Levi Pinfold. The story expertly explores a fantasy dystopian world that could become a scary reality in years to come. It is a book which is certainly very topical and on trend at the moment.
My imagination was captured from the very first page. Jake (main character) finds himself living in an Academy orphanage after his parents die in a tragic car accident. Unfortunately, the orphanage is a home of loss, loneliness and regimental regime. There is no love present and it is certainly not a place for any child. However, Jack dares to break out in the dark of night, in a daring escape to reach Scotland and find his grandparents. The only problem is that the government officials will be able to track his every move and chase him down. It definitely makes a very emotive and thrilling start to the book.
The more that you read, the more you are sucked into a thrilling futuristic world featuring a manipulative government. In fact, a big wall has been built to segregate England from Scotland. The actions and reactions of the characters really resonated with me. They appear to be written with such delicate ease as you follow the group of children in a fight for survival and freedom. I particularly loved two scenes in the book involving the London underground, which I have a fascination with anyway, and John Lewis, the retailer. I don't want to say any more about these, but I think you'll understand what I mean when you read the book.
I did have one minor issue with the book and that was the ending. I felt that it went a little too far in content and that it could have ended sooner. I wonder if part of the ending could have been incorporated into another book as too many unanswered questions remained unsolved by the end.
Nevertheless, this happens to be one of the best Young Adult (YA) contemporary books that I've read for some time. There were large elements of the story that took me back to my childhood. The story certainly takes no prisoners instilling a dark and bleak pursuit across a country in crisis, whilst also delivering an explosive amount of high octane action as the characters try to evade capture.
This is a thrilling, yet chilling, creative ride that will stay with me for some time. It is a heart-stomping story that I felt, loved and survived on so many levels. Thanks again David Fickling and the team for nurturing and publishing this little fantasy gold nugget. Please let there be another book sometime soon.