Friday, September 24, 2010


Bang, Bang, You're Dead!

by Narinder Dhami

After reading Todd Strasser's novel/indictment about school shootings, and in preparing to read an adult novel on the topic, I came across this book, and was surprised to find that it was British. Since we tend to think of school shootings as an american phenomenon, I was curious to see how it would be handled differently here.

The book alternates between the actual action of what is happening in the school and the reasons why Mia believes that her twin brother might be the one holding the gun, including a look back over their lives, beginning as very young children looking after themselves while their mentally ill mother lay in bed during the depressed phases of her bipolar cycles.

Mia is nearly certain that her twin is trying to both pay back a girl who bullied her and make her mother sit up and take notice of how her refusal to seek help is affecting the family. They are, after all, living on the brink, and Mia does not feel that she has the strength to deal with it, while she watches her brother become ever more distant and scornful.

During the school shooting, Mia is so certain it's her brother that rather than evacuate the school with her classmates, she runs toward the classroom held hostage, hoping to talk him down, only to find herself playing cat and mouse with the gunman, who she hears rather than sees until the last second.

This story has a twist ending that took me completely by surprise, and which I will not give away, but I will say that the British tradition of psychological thrillers and mysteries is definitely alive and well, even in teen fiction...

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