21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine:Young Fiction

Dirty Angels by Andrew Clovers
Aby Davis review

On page one of Andrew Clovers debut novel his teenage protagonist announces he's got problems. He's short, clever and has weird dreams. So far, so average, until Colin tells the reader he is psychic and can talk to pigeons.

Clovers first person narrative tells Colin's story as he experiences it, making it easy to follow but sometimes difficult to understand. Our hero confides all in the reader However, no one else seems to have time for him, his mum would rather be with either of her boyfriends, and his best friend Polly just seems to humour him. The arrival of eccentric Uncle Jimmy seems to offer all kinds of answers, as Colin finds a use for his powers, and an explanation for the strange things that are beginning to happen. Then, when Polly gets attacked by mysterious villains, Colin finds himself in the middle of something personal, and the story begins to have further direction.
Clovers fast paced imaginings will certainly appeal to young people looking for escapism. His enthusiasm for fantasy is obvious; ghosts turn into trees, sleeping souls are imprisoned by evil forces, and giant snakes lurk in school corridors. He also gives Colin an engaging voice, littering it with quirky observations. Colin may talk to ghosts and pigeons, but he makes sure the pigeons talk like Samuel. L.Jackson, and the ghosts smell bad like the inside of a fridge.

Older readers however, may find the plot clumsy, and the characters underdeveloped. Colin is has a high I.Q but speaks like his lazily spoken peers, "I don't never say sorry" He says, and the reader is expected to forgive him because no one else understands him.The dialogue between the school pupils is sometimes difficult to understand, although this could add to the realism that Glover may want to contrast with the more magical happenings.

The story is arresting, and there are some moments of true beauty as Glover briefly flirts with the afterlife, and Colin comes to terms with the death of his father. However, the story feels too cluttered with unnecessary complications.Glover appears to be trying to deal with too many issues. As well as battling with things of a supernatural world, Colin struggles with ideas of capitalism, racism and religion. He experiences his first kiss, and helps a friend come out as homosexual.

It feels like Colin is struggling with more than his character can cope with, he spends most of the story ignoring the talking pigeons and avoiding a final battle. He floats about meeting ghosts and worrying about Polly, and the reader can't help but think its a shame she's in a coma because her character may spur on the action a bit.

Clover is often making political points and the fact that the baddie is filled with oil may be lost on younger readers, but it makes for gory reading. This will surely delight those wishing for the villains messy end, and Collins triumphant victory.
Dirty Angels will please, and amuse. It has the right formula to entertain young lovers of fantasy, and people longing for magic in the ordinary. It also empowers the underdog, a recurring theme in children's literature that certainly does no harm, and it has a friendly message to simply be yourself. Nothing new, perhaps, but also nothing that's unwelcome. If the story feels busy and overcomplicated, it may just suggest an enthusiastic author, eager to show his vision in its entirety. Whatever your conclusion, it is certainly easy to emphasise with the leading character and his many problems.
© Aby Davis October 2007

More Young Fiction


© Hackwriters 1999-2007 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.