Matthew Whyman writes for numerous teenage magazines, from Sugar to Bliss, and is best known as the Agony Uncle for 19 Magazine. In this capacity he appears regularly on radio and television, and has advised the Chief Medical Officer on the Health of the Young Nation paper. He was also the author of a nationwide body awareness campaign for Radio One FM and the Health Education Authority. Matt has recently run the London Marathon, but in between training he has been busy writing and researching The Wild, his follow up Russian set novel to Boy Kills Man as well as moving house from Hackney to East Sussex, where he lives with his wife and three young daughters.
Gr 7 Up-Contemporary Medell'n, Colombia, is the setting for this unsettling and largely uncompromising portrayal of the life and death of Sonny, a small 13-year-old boy lost in pursuit of machismo. A grade-school dropout whose life has been twisted by poverty, he watches enviously as his menacing best friend, Alberto, lives large after being recruited by El Fantasma, a drug lord, for what become almost routine assassinations. Sonny's first hit, like Alberto's, is of a bound and gagged victim who is already being tortured, and is critiqued thusly: "You're enthusiastic. I like that in my sicarios. Maybe you were a little generous with the bullets, but the sucker had it coming." Sonny's life had previously been about "music, money, Jesus Christ, and soccer," but by the end of the book, he is caught in his own inevitable death spiral. The climax reveals unexpected depth and resonance from the ironic title. The taut story line subtly illustrates the many levels of personal, social, and political costs of the shocking violence created and perpetuated by the largely U.S.-driven international drug trade. At times the narrative sounds as if it were translated into an odd, if colloquial, English, and it occasionally drags a bit, but on the whole, the book will interest and educate readers about a world they might know nothing of otherwise. While references to smoking grass, drinking, and the violence itself might seem to limit this title to mature teen readers, the presentation makes this awful world accessible to younger readers, as well.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Bold, chilling and beautifully written. * Melvin Burgess *
Stunning... * Nicholas Tucker, The Independent *
Excellent... * William Leith, The Daily Telepgraph *
Just occasionally, a novel hits you with such force that it takes a while for what you've read to sink in...Boy Kills Man is such a book. * The Birmingham Post *
A story about violence rather than a violent story, this is a fine achievement. * The Independent *
A powerful, uncompromising, poignant and thought-provoking piece of literature that ividly brings to life a world few of us would like to see. * This is Books *