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: Review
'Whyman’s book is a must buy for the inquisitive growing boy or for the worryingly anxious parent'.

Unzipped – A Toolkit for Life
Author: Matt Whyman
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN-10: 034 0 94533 8
ISBN-13: 978 0 340 94533 9
Price: UK £5.99 Paperback - Age: 11+ years
Richard Parry Review

A comforting guide for the growing male; a route around the obstacles on the adolescent journey.Too often today we hear about the troubles caused by tear-away teen boys; the stabbings, muggings, the drinking and dropping, happy-slapping and the girlfriend pushing the pram.
So what is it that keeps the growing boy of today up at night?
Adolescence of course!

Matt Whyman’s ‘Unzipped’ tackles the affects and symptoms of adolescent distress head-on at the route of its power; the naivety of the ill-informed, un-questioning kid. Whyman draws upon all of his knowledge and wisdom obtained from being the agony uncle for such organisations as Bliss and AOL; having also written multiple heath-awareness campaigns, along with advising the Governments Chief Medical Officer on youth issues. In this ‘toolkit for life’ Whyman holds back from becoming too preachy and offers his experiences of life with a big brother like tone; unravelling the deep dark fears whilst calming the storms of despair with his lightly humoured conviction with a sense of ‘coolness’ in his deliverance. Whyman addresses the entirety of his selected adolescent issues thoroughly. Every topic is aided by contact details for a respectable organisation within the text itself; on the off chance that the reader may miss or ignore the ‘Unzipped Contacts’ section at the back of the book!

The layout and page design of the book, with its fun cover and neatly placed illustrations distance it from the more ‘text book’ like renditions; making it an approachable book which does not intimidate the reader. It is a book which I feel would attract its target audience of boys eleven years and up; with parents and guardians also being drawn to it as well. The book is a light-weight paperback and with only one hundred and fifty two pages is not a daunting read. The clearly thoughtful presentation of the book will help make it successful as it attempts to attract an audience of who many will not be heavy readers.

The areas where I feel ‘Unzipped’ shows its true worth are those concerning drugs, smoking and alcohol. Obviously it informs the reader of the dangers of abuse such as addiction, illness and subsequent death, explores the different drug classes and the problems when mixing drinks; but Whyman goes beyond the common statistics. He also answers the usually ignored question...why do people do it then? Whyman explains the different effects of the drug, bad and good, which is after all why people choose to take them in the first place! That magic mushrooms can make you see the pink elephants from Dumbo as well as give you stomach pains and diarrhoea, and that drinking a lot can lead to good night as well as throwing up on your bed-side table.

Overall ‘Unzipped’ is the honest truth regarding the journey to manhood, allowing the adolescent reader to decide for themselves what choices to make with the comfort and knowledge that they are ‘in the know’ which is all that any teen or parent could ask for. Obviously some boys may read the pages on alcohol and decide to ignore the warnings and seek the thrills, spending the early hours of the morning being pumped; but those who do cannot say that they have not been warned! Whyman’s book is a must buy for the inquisitive growing boy or for the worryingly anxious parent.
© Richard Parry November 2007

Richard is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

More Young Fiction


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