SSBA Book Review 2 – Itch

Itch by Simon Mayo

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After being so viscerally immersed in the plot-line of The Bunker Diary through Linus’s entries, I found the third-person perspective of Itch quite distancing.

Simon Mayo’s debut novel is the story of teenager Itchingham Lofte, Element Hunter, whose geeky science collection gets him – and the world – into more trouble than he could ever have imagined.

Set amidst the Atlantic roar and old mining towns of Cornwall, Mayo creates a fun and modern story of two teenagers’ attempts to avert an international nuclear disaster.

The plot concept was a good one, but as a group both the students and teachers found it unsatisfying to read. Some aspects stretched believability to its limits, and some details were simply wrong, like the train platform for the journey from London to Brighton. It was felt that something like this could easily be checked to add credibility.

In addition, there seemed to be very little going on beneath the surface, so the novel came across as pretty superficial. Perhaps more could have been made of the links between past, present and future, as the ancient rocks, obsolete collieries and future possibilities converged on the characters at the Cornwall Academy. Or a real question about our energy use and future needs could have been raised to give the story extra depth.

I think some of those themes were intended, but they got lost in the telling.

There were some great aspects to this book, and a good editor – or film director – would probably draw them out brilliantly, to make the story a masterpiece that it could be.

Ultimately we enjoyed the idea of this novel, but felt the style was too slow and clunky to hold our attention; the characters not well-enough developed to capture our hearts.

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