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Mmm books - they taste good in my brain. So I decided to work in publishing and feed my habit. So now for a living I read wonderful children's books and tell everyone how great they are. It's called publicity! Many thanks to Oliver Jeffers for the name inspiration and header image.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Carnegie read number 4 - Flip by Martyn Bedford

First of all - sorry about the photo. But I'm running out of creative photographic ways to symbolise me eating the books. I need more utensils.

Next on my reading pile for the Carnegie longlist challenge I've set myself was Flip by Martyn Bedford. My chosen book purchasing method this time was to visit Casey from Dark Readers at Waterstones Camden, my local and her place of work now! It was lovely to see her smiley face and lo and behold, Flip was there, ready and waiting to be purchased. EXCELLENT SERVICE, PROMOTE CASEY, WOOO! Ahem.

Having just seen a Misfits episode that involved a body swap (no spoilers I promise) I was reminded of their discussion of whether it was more like Face-Off or Freaky Friday. Which just goes to show the whole body swap thing has been done before - so this was my first fear jumping in to reading the book. It also made me expect that there would be some kind of extra twist which never really came, but that's not to say it wasn't a good read. Also Martyn Bedford went to UEA, just like myself (and Steve Cole. And that man who wants to marry Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean) so he must be a dude.

Alex wakes up in another boy's body, miles from his own home and family, with no idea what has happened to his own body. His reaction is unsettlingly realistic as his initial attempts to explain that he is not in fact Philip or "Flip" are met with disbelief, and he is forced to settle in to life in Flip's body. At least for the time being. His inner turmoil at whether he can continue to be himself in another body leaves him conflicted and desperate to find a way out, and he soon discovers he is not the only one this phenomenon has happened to...

I think the thing I found odd about this story was just how realistic it was. I felt like I was reading a gritty emotional account of something that could really happen and affect people. The issue under the skin here is about Alex feeling comfortable with his identity which is a genuine worry for many teens, yet set within this story framework it doesn't feel patronising or heavy handed. I wouldn't agree with its description as a "thriller" though as the storyline is more emotional and slow building than high speed action. Alex doesn't start leaping cars to find the government agency that hijacked his body or anything like that - the impetus to keep reading is intrigue at how Alex will chose to deal with events, and of course how you would deal with it yourself.

This book surprised me by popping up on a lot of big awards lists when I hadn't heard much about it before - not for the first time, a book from Walker that sneaks up on you due to its quality rather than hype. I would be really keen to see where Martin Bedford goes next as this book is clearly very good, but I'd like to see what he would do coming with a slightly more original plotline.

Flip by Martyn Bedford is out now in a sort of paperbacky/hardback thingy (?) and published by Walker Books. It is longlisted for the 2012 Carnegie medal and UKLA Book award and shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Book Award for Children.

1 comment:

  1. Woo hoo for Casey in Camden. Will have to get down there to see her at some point!