Author of Robot Girl and Hostage, Malorie Blackman has also been the UK Children's Laureate from 2013 to 2015 and inspires us with her latest novel in the 4U2 Read range from Barrington Stoke.
Nine short chapters are enough for this short novel about Cal, a boy who dislikes the future he is in. Due to a catastrophe on Earth, everyone now has to wear N.C. or Non-Contact suits to prevent them from breathing in toxins or germs that could prove fatal to their bodies. Cal has friends, but hates not being able to touch them as the people of Earth did many years ago. He longs to take off his N.C. suit but his mother gives him a stern telling-off for wanting to - making it clear he could very well contract some kind of illness if he does.
More than anything, Cal longs to be with his friends for real, playing five-aside-football but playing it on his VR headset isn't what his idea of sport is. Once every month the ten of them gather to play online, but Jacob, Jenna's twin brother wants to play with them - asking to be their reserve. Nobody likes him as he keeps bullying the other players into letting him play, and it's no different this month when they decide to meet up online. This time though, there is a slight difference and if Jacob finds out when they are meeting, he might tell them.
For a kid, Cal has been tolerant of everyone and the warnings given to him by his mother, but he itches to find out what it would be like without the N.C., living like they did in bygone years where everyone would make contact without having to wear them.
Malorie Blackman draws us into her world of technology; of liquid food piped straight into the stomach using a tube as eating normally would be unhealthy. Cal wonders what it would be like to chew his food, taste it and enjoy it, among other things he would like to do that he can't and as a result of this he feels he can't enjoy his life. But it's not all bad news there is a nice twist to it at the end.
Barrington Stoke's books are designed for young readers of all ages from being young to teenage and come in a variety of genres; urban, science fiction, horror and fantasy. Designed with dyslexic children in mind, it still remains a great source of excellent easy-to-read fiction that has something for every taste with talented writers on board.
Review by Sandra Scholes
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