Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Hungarian review of 13th YA novel, FORCES.

The following is a coped-and-pasted review from a Hungarian lady, Tunde' Nagy, who very kindly went to the trouble of painstakingly translating her review into English for me. (Her idea. I wouldn't dream of asking her to do such a thing.) While a few language errors are obvious, her points and feelings are clear enough, and my deepest thanks for her consideration and efforts.
- Andrew Hawcroft

HAWCROFT, Andrew, Forces.

"What does it take to change the nature of a person?” (3) – asks the narrator right on the

first line of the novel. It is not easy to answer to this complex question and we can find many

similar questions in Forces. Hawcroft wrote his novel for teenagers, but I am sure that adults

will not be bored during reading his artwork either.

Forces takes place in the time of BBC News, Wikipedia, Youtube, in the time which is

known by everyone, in the time, when the technology, television, mobile and smart phones

conquer the human mind in such an extent that people hardly can make relevant decisions,

keep a family together or simply be happy for their life. It is not a coincidence that the author

uses and emphasizes those channels, since the narrator not just place his story in a relevant

decade as a background (which is close to us and we know it as the back of our hand), but he

uses their functions at the same time. The BBC for example helps to show, what is happening

in the wide world, out of the Red Corners.

The main character of the story is John Clay, he looks like an ordinary hero. He lives his

early adult, late teenage life and this two „lifes” perfectly reflect in his behaviour, since he is

the leader of the Red Liners and also the son of Sherry and Ted Clay. He is absolutely suited

for the leader position both phisically and mentally, however sometimes we encounter the

vague and desperate little boy who feels the danger of this lifestyle and he knows that people

cannot live like this forever, because there might be serious consequences. This is one of the

reasons why John has a huge fear of getting into jail. He even consideres to join the police

which would provide him safety and protection, but he is too afraid that they might discover

his past and in the end his nightmare would become reality.

John has two families and as a matter of fact he has a leader position in both. His

biological family is somewhere at the bottom of society, their house smells from cigarette and

alcohol, they might have never seen healthy food and they entertain themselves in front of

the television watching idiotic tv-shows. They literally live next to each other. Despite of all

John’s reprehensible acts, he seems to be the most normal character, since he is not interested

in tv-shows, he likes to think about more important things, hundreds of thoughts crosses his

mind constantly and he would like to break out of the bubble. As the leader of the Red Liners

he takes care about the gang and he always finds something to do with them. Even though

they steal and rob, they never hurt anyone and avoid any drugs. He chose this „family” and

they stick together instinctly, protect and watch over each other, even when they make jokes

or tease others in the gang.

The story has an interesting turn of events when the members of the Red Liners break into

the Carrington’s museum and all of them steals certain things. Not just the life and destiny of

the gang changes but whole London becomes a part of an apocaliptic vision and everything is

on the bum. John, the confident leader slowly becomes a desperate teenager, his weeknesses

show themselves and that is when PC Haines and Rupert appear. They are the completely

positive representatives of the adults, John himself is also suprised by them, since he is not

used to normal adult people. The officer and Rupert help John to pull through the crazy events

and find a solution to the problems.

Forces examines many important questions which appear in all areas of our lifes, but I

think, the most crucial subjects are the ones regarding lifestyle. Readers encounter many

times with people’s comfortable life which simply got used to the triumvirate of „work-sofa-
television”. Due to the apocaliptic events this picture starts to change. Joe’s diatribe shows

this, when the members of the Red Liners start to slowly disappear. He shouts to John that he

would like to do nothing else but calmly sit on the sofa watching the television.

I could underline many valuable thoughts from Forces, since both the genre and the story

shows the complexity of the novel. In this fast-paced world, in the tangled web of events,

we might really need an apocaliptic boom to see the important things in our life and what we

need to appreciate and value day by day. Andrew Hawcroft reveals the importance of the tiny

things which we just go by every single day and if we had a chance to understand and notice

them we might never let them out of our hands.

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