From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—From the beginning of this novel, fear and suspense are palpable as 14-year-old Blade is chased and savagely beaten by a gang of ruthless teenage girls. He is a gritty, British street kid constantly on the run for his life, but readers don't find out why until the end. He has amazingly keen instincts and startling skill with a switchblade, and he knows how to seem invisible, to go unnoticed and stay alive. Blade watches silently from the shadows to learn whether homeowners are in or not, and then uses unoccupied houses as snugs, safe havens where he sleeps, eats, and reads. Books are Blade's one solace, and his love of books softens the character of this streetwise thief. This is a solid choice for reluctant readers who are willing to accept the British slang, which is easy enough to interpret in context. "Quite a few nebs here too but they're all muffins" translates to, there's lots of people out in the neighborhood, but they're harmless. Bowler's use of short, clipped sentences creates a breathless tone that keeps readers on edge and turning pages at breakneck speed as Blade eludes murderers, drug users, and thugs.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
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Combining the first two of a projected eight-volume UK series called Blade, this headlong thriller introduces a feral street teen in an unspecified urban setting who manages to find himself pursued not only by police (“porkers”) but by both a girl gang and murderous thugs from his mysterious but evidently violent past. Addressing an observer he dubs “Big Eyes” in staccato, present-tense prose laced with an invented slang (“BLADE. That’s what they used to call me. And I liked it. Bit of style, bit of clash. But remember—it’s a secret. Don’t be a claphead and spew it. If I find you’ve blotched on me . . .”), the narrator alludes tantalizingly to past misdeeds and absent characters as he sweeps up a frightened gang member and a small child in his attempted flight. This first installment ends so violently that, if it weren’t for the certainty of upcoming volumes, readers would be sure that Bowler had killed off his main character. Reluctant readers in particular will be pleased by the fast pace and the action’s immediacy. Grades 5-8. --John Peters