A dark and demanding read for older teenagers
After his dad and stepmum are killed in a car crash, it seems life couldn't get much worse for Will - but it does, writes John Millen
Chris Lynch is a daring and challenging writer of teenage fiction and his latest novel, Freewill, is an edgy, contemporary tale that young adult readers will find fascinating and memorable.
It tells the story of Will, an emotionally damaged young man who is lost in a hopeless state of limbo where everything has stopped making sense. Every day is a struggle to understand what life is doing to him.
Once, not too long ago, Will knew exactly where life was leading him. He was going to become a pilot, and he knew he could make it. But then fate took a hand and ruined everything. Will's father and stepmother were killed in a car accident that might have been suicide or even murder. His life fell apart and he had to move in with his grandparents.
Before he realises what was happening, Will is attending a school for teenagers with emotional problems where he spends his time in therapeutic wood-work classes making furniture and carving figures. How has it all come to this? Will is confused and he can't find any answers.
At school, Will is totally removed from reality and the people around him. He begins to carve weird totem-like figures in his classes and he doesn't know where these carvings are coming from. Is it really him producing these bizarre wooden shapes?
But just as Will is almost giving up hope about himself, another tragedy occurs that sends him spinning deeper into confusion.
A girl from school drowns in a local pool and one of Will's wooden sculptures appears as the centre-piece of the tributes at the scene of the death. How did it get there?
There is a second suicide, and then two more - all marked by one of Will's mysterious sculptures. Is Will unknowingly responsible for the deaths or are his carvings bizarre pointers of tragedy?
As questions are asked about Will's possible involvement in the deaths, the damaged teenager begins to sink into further into oblivion. What can save him?
Despite its nightmare themes, Freewill is sometimes wildly funny and always human. Will's story is cleverly told in the second person.
Author Lynch employs a lightness of touch that compliments the darkness of what Will is going through.
Demanding, passionate and utterly gripping, Freewill covers a lot of emotional ground. An intriguing, if disturbing, read for older teens.
By Chris Lynch
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 0 7475 6266 0
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com.