I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Cameron Raynes’ young adult novel, First Person Shooter. The blurb didn’t grab me, and I don’t read a great deal of YA fiction, but I gave it a go. I encourage YA readers and schools to do the same. Here’s the blurb:
Jayden lives with his father on the edge of a small country town. He stutters and is addicted to video games.
His best friend Shannon knows how to handle a rifle. When her mum is released from prison, the town waits to see whether her sociopathic stepson Pete will exact revenge for the manslaughter of his father. Caught with ammunition at school and suspended, Jayden’s world disintegrates. As a drug war erupts, Pete gears up for his violent assault. Will it be left to Jayden to stop him?
Stark and intense, First Person Shooter is highly relevant to today’s teens, with its mentions of pop culture and video games, but offers plenty for adult readers as well. The characters, with all their flaws and foibles, jump off the page. They are real people, good and bad, the kind of people you meet everywhere: people with grudges and long memories; people trying to make a go of things; people trying to figure out who they are and where they fit. And it’s great to see a character with a stutter take the lead – Raynes captures Jayden’s frustrations, insecurities and challenges with sensitivity and authenticity.
Like Jayden, who loves words despite his stutter, Raynes has a knack with words. He’s particularly good with description and scene setting, as well as giving that insight to Jayden’s inner world. Having been to Bridgetown, where the story takes place, I could see the town vividly. The hot, dragging summer days add to the mounting tension between characters, until finally, it erupts. It’s well done.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $24.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of MidnightSun Publishing.
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