Fearless, by Tim Lott

Children's book - set in a nineteen-eighty-four-ish kind of world where the population is kept happy by watching "vidscreens", this is the story of "Little Fearless", a girl who's been taken from her family and imprisoned in a kind of workhouse, where the fearsome "Controller" rules and imposes harsh discipline. Little Fearless resolves to escape so she can tell the outside world what is happening.

Well this was pretty disappointing. This is from the author of White City Blue and The Love Secrets of Don Juan? I was left thinking, why did he bother writing this when he could have been wrting adult fiction? Although, looking back, it does seem like his books have been on a general downward trend - I think his last one was The Seymour Tapes which I felt was a bit weak.

The book felt to me very cliched and unoriginal. And unbelievable. Unbelievable isn't a bad thing - in fact I was reminded a bit of "The Selfish Giant" and "The Happy Prince" by Wilde, fairy stories with a moral message.

But although the plot had fairy story elements (e.g. LF escapes three times, each occasion requiring her to give up something precious, and each time resulting in her encountering a different person/problem in the outside world), the book seems to want you to believe that Little Fearless's world is real, although it's an implausible mish mash of dystopian tropes from other books and stories. With irritating neologisms like "vidscreen", "narcobev" and "identicard" thrown in.

Another book I was reminded of was The Guardians by John Christopher - that book is set in a broken future, and has a child protagonist who's trying to make sense of what's going on. And that book also has made-up words; I remember "conurbs" (which seems plausible to me; otoh why say "identicard" when you could say "id card"?). But that book (from what I remember, anyway) was not written in a "are you sitting comfortably" style, and it didn't have any particular moral message. And the future it imagined was nothing like nineteen-eighty four (which this one is, with its vidscreens and propaganda about enemies of the state).

So, very disappointing.

Completed : 19-Sep-2009

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