Review Blog

Mar 05 2014

Hello Darkness by Anthony McGowan

cover image

Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781406337846.
(Age: 12+) Anthony McGowan is well known for previous books, Henry Tumour and The Knife That Killed Me; both of which have won awards in Britain. I visited his website and discovered an interesting film clip where he is interviewed about the gang culture in Britain, knives, schools, and parenthood. He talks about school being a scary place in a world where the gap between the rich and poor widens. Young people come together for safety and a bit of security. Hello Darkness is a story about Johnny Middleton, an outsider, excluded from all the school factions, and at the mercy of aggressive teachers. Everyone knows that he has returned to school after suffering a recent nervous breakdown. He becomes entangled in a killing spree where all the school pets are killed, and he is determined to prove his innocence and reveal the killer.
From the first page on I was immersed in life at the school; intrigued, amazed and amused. The humour is wonderful, especially when Johnny exaggerates circumstances, embellishing at every opportunity. However Johnny's plight is often heartbreaking and the reader hopes he finds the culprit soon. The language is fast-paced, making this story very readable. There is however a niggling uncertainty as we read. Some things are farfetched and the comedy darkens and Johnny seems to experience a slipping sense of reality. In fact the reader is never quite sure how much of what Johnny is seeing or doing is actually happening. This is what makes the book enjoyable: all is not clear and it is interesting to try to work things out.
Julie Wells

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
CBCA Awards 2017 winners
2017 Inky Awards shortlist
Environment Award for Children's Literature 2017
Speech Pathology shortlist 2017
2017 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals
2017 Branford Boase Award
2017 UKLA Book Awards

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Bookmark and poster templates