Mal Peet's page on the Walker website for more information
Life: An Exploded Diagram is a coming of age story set in rural North Norfolk during the Cold War. These two things alone made it a bit of a must read for me. Having never read an Mal Peet I wasn't sure what to expect but I can honestly say I really enjoyed it.
Life is one of those books you can devour in a matter of hours despite its size (at just about 400 pages long it is a bit of a monster). I was totally engrossed and found myself just wanting to read more and more to find out what happened next.
As I said Life is basically a coming of age story following the life of Clem Ackroyd a boy from rural north Norfolk focusing particularly on his teenage years and the relationship he develops with local rich girl Frankie. When I was reading it it reminded me both of Boy by Roald Dahl in its narrative and style but also a bit like an Adrian Mole story in how ordinary Clem actually was. I loved the relationship between them and I was on tender hooks waiting to see what was going to happen between them.
I loved the Norfolk references being a native myself. I hate it when stories are "set" in a place but it is obvious that the person has never been there. Apart from the fact that a few names are changed (I loved the use of the name Hazeborough - if you are from Norfolk you will get the joke - if not I don't think I can explain it) you can really tell that the author is writing about somewhere he has actually been and about experiences he lived through earlier in his life.
I also really enjoyed the historical references. The books is a prime example of the type of historical fiction I love and the type I think appeals to Young Adults themselves. It doesn't attempt to over burden you with detail after detail about the period but rather builds them into the story to give you a real sense of period without the reader really realising it.
I must say the end came as a bit of a surprise and I had to go back over a couple of pages to check I had got it right. I didn't see it coming at all but it fit really perfectly the story as a whole and I loved how poetic it was against the historical backdrop it was written in.
All in all an excellent book which I really enjoyed. I will be recommending this one regularly.
Source: I received this from Walker in exchange for an honest review and sent it to Kirsty who offered to review it for me
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