Bullet Boys

Bullet Boys

Author: Ally Kennen

Publication: 2012, Marion Lloyd Books

Pages: 320

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]                        

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Alex grew up on the moor with his dad, who works as a gamekeeper for a rich hunter from the city.  He’s spent his life walking the moors, working with animals, and shooting.  But none of that prepares him for the discovery he and Levi make on the nearby army shooting range.  Inside an ancient barn they discover a major stash of automatic weapons sunk into the mud and peat.  Alex wants to go to the police, or at least forget that the whole thing ever happened.   But Levi can’t get it out of his head, can’t stop imagining all the money they could make off those guns.  And when he shares the news with crazy boy Max, who got kicked out of his old school and lives in the shadow of his military brother, everything leaps out of control.  Max and Levi are on the run from a crazed soldier, and all of them are fighting for their lives.

Age of Main Character: 17 and 18

What I Liked the Most: The setting is fantastic.  Britain is full of moors – uncultivated, rolling grasslands – often characterized by heavy fog and few people.  Kennen makes great use of the lonely setting, throwing us into the peat bogs, the rocky tors, and the wild, rugged landscape.  It’s easy to imagine walking the hills, hearing the explosion of shells and the tap of bullets from the military training ground played off against the lonely cry of a pheasant.

Kennen also provides some great red herrings to keep you guessing about what’s going on and make it pleasingly hard to know who Alex should trust.  I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense of not knowing who’d hidden the guns and wondering where the attack was going to come from.

What I Liked the Least: Max is one of the books central characters, and a good chunk of the story takes place from his perspective.  Unfortunately, for most of the book Max is so aggressively narcissistic and self-destructive  that at times I found it very hard to keep going and had to fight the temptation to shout at him and throw my book against the wall.  I couldn’t understand why Alex and Levi continued to hang out with him, and why they kept coming to his rescue every time he pissed someone off and got into trouble.

How Good was the Action? There aren’t a lot of fights in this book, but there’s plenty of tension and the extended chase at the end of the book is masterfully done.  Kennen excels at using short sentences to pump up the speed and jamming her scenes full of enough intense emotions to keep you on the edge of your seat.

How Engaging was the Story?   The book flips back and forth between 3rd person chapters centered on Alex and 1st person chapters centered on Max.  Even though Levi is never more than a secondary character to Alex and Max, Kennen still manages to breathe life into him and make him central to much of the action that drives the story forward.  And while Max may have been obnoxious and hard to stomach, his story kept me engaged, trying to figure out what he’d done to get expelled from school and why he was so self-destructive and pissed off with his family.  I wanted answers, and I was happy to keep reading in order to get them.

Overall Assessment: Kennen has written a solid thriller, the kind of story that could really happen, involving regular kids tossed in a situation where they’re in way over their heads.  It brims with intense emotion and I constantly found myself wondering how a woman could possibly have written a book that so perfectly captured the character of its male protagonists.

Profanity: Yes. 

Sex: There wasn’t a lot in the way of actual sex, but there was plenty talk about sex and some mild fantasizing.

Violence: Yes.  There are a few scenes that get moderately gory, but for the most part the violence is limited to fist fights and is not particularly explicit.

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