New YA book from David Barker PAX AND THE MISSING HEAD out via Tiny Tree Books 19th October
This reader, has followed David Barker's career since he returned to writing following a career change from economics to literature. He wrote a series of espionage thrillers with adults at the helm involving the threat of water levels to the world and this was pre-pandemic and Greta Thunberg bringing notions of climate change awareness to the reader that others might be wary of.
However, Barker has again changed course, now writing for young adults. In the first of a new series, this is the tale of Pax, virtually a slave in a dystopian future London that is encased by a new London wall, draconian rule is enforced yet Pax is a young man of initiative and industry who yearns to be an engineer and not dwell in the nefarious mines forever.
By chance, he gains a place at a prestigious and mysterious school and from there the book follows the the template of Tom Brown Schooldays mixed with the boarding school tropes from a certain wizard storyline with a dash of science fiction tomfoolery abounding.
Barker has always been able to write with a zip and thrust to his narrative, maintaining good character arcs and believable dialogue, luckily the transition to the young adult genre has not diminished any of this quality. A book that is under 300 pages it has that same cut and dash this reader recalls from his Gold trilogy and it was a pleasure to read.
While the influences are somewhat obvious, Barker is keen to embrace with great effect those narrative motifs to enhance his own world-building which nails the landing like a drone capturing a flag.
Aimed at the pre-teen market by the publishers, this is an enticing read for capable readers between the ages of 9-12 and is a good gateway into the world of dystopian science fiction.
PAX AND THE MISSING HEAD is out from Tiny Trees on 19th October
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