Review Blog

Nov 16 2015

Anything that isn't this by Chris Priestley

cover image

Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404641
(Age: 15+) 17 year old Frank Palp lives in a town surrounded by grey. The people are grey, their clothes are grey, everyone and thing is grey. Frank lives in a post war/dystopian town which is under curfew and everything is controlled by the Ministry. There is no joy, no laughter. Frank is obsessed with a classmate Olivia to the point that he thinks if the two of them were to get together his life will change for the better. There may even be some colour in his life. He constantly rides his bike past her house hoping just to catch a glimpse of her. When he find a bottle containing a note which reads Anything that isn't this he finally realises he needs to grow up and take on some responsibility.
Chris Priestley's style of writing was very bleak and disjointed. If he wanted to create a world of bleakness he has succeeded. Hence I found the book depressing and the characters unlikable. I didn't like the character Frank, he seemed pitiful and hollow and who lacks empathy to his fellow classmates and his own parents. The only ones who he seems to care about are his elder sister and his dead grandfather. The one thing that redeemed this book was that Frank's character did develop, so that the ending did at least represent a change from the beginning. Though the illustrations are a pleasant break in reading, they also paint a bleak and dreary picture.
Jody Holmes

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