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Nickel is a survivor. He has to be. For as long as he can remember, his life has hinged on the flip of a coin. Or, rather, the scribble of a social worker’s pen. He’s been through the system, even had a good dad for a few years, until he was gone, too. But Nickel remembers everything he taught him, and since the day he escaped from foster-care hell, he’s put that knowledge to good use. Just twelve years old, he makes a steady living by selling marijuana to high schoolers, blackmailing pedophiles he ferrets out online, and working as a private investigator.
When a beautiful girl named Arrow hires him to find her little sister Shelby, Nickel figures at best the kid’s a runaway; at worst, some perv’s gotten a hold of her. He scours the internet and the streets of Arrow’s suburban neighborhood, and what he finds there is as ugly a truth as he’s ever seen. For beyond the manicured lawns, Nickel discovers children for sale, and adults with souls black as the devil. And people like that aren’t about to let some kid ruin their game. This edgy thriller introduces a canny, precocious anti-hero, the likes of which young-adult readers have never seen.
Every so often you come across a book with a voice like a blast of pure oxygen. Aric Davis has that kind of voice: crackling, assured, energized. With Nickel Plated, he introduces an utterly unique character: 12-year-old Nickel, a former abused foster child, current runaway, and future force to be reckoned with (not that he isn’t already) with a keen brain, sharp sense of humor and hard-boiled self-awareness. Sworn never to return to foster care, Nickel supports himself by dealing pot, blackmailing online pedophiles, and taking on PI jobs, particularly anything involving a child in need. When pretty Arrow asks him to find her missing little sister, Nickel’s investigation uncovers a nasty corner of the suburbs involved in child trafficking. This is a dark but humane, chilling and sometimes heart-breaking work of noir, a reminder that children are vulnerable but also resilient, tough and resourceful. Davis takes on some very mature themes but never loses sight of the damaged but determined heart in his young narrator. Here is a character who demands a series, from a writer who will shake you wide awake. --Gillian Flynn
Aric Davis: Nickel came from a really dark time in my life. It sounds ridiculous in retrospect, but before I worked on Nickel Plated, I invested myself in a different novel completely, and after it was resoundingly rejected for publication, I thought I was done writing. I really felt like I'd wrung myself dry. About two months later, which was my longest dry spell without writing in years, three members of my wife's extended family were murdered by a drunk driver while they were walking on a deserted country road. In addition, a number of other family members and friends were hospitalized. I wanted to kill the driver, and of course, that's not a rational way of thinking. But I could make a character that could hurt bad people...
Question: Let's be honest. Nickel Plated is an edgy book. And you look edgy. Your job as a piercing artist even sounds edgy. But for all this "edginess," Nickel is actually very tenderhearted. How did you find the right mix of dark and sweet for this novel?
Aric Davis: I wanted an emotional character because most protagonists in this style of adult novel-like Richard Stark's infamous Parker-are so cold all the time. The emotions running through Nickel have a lot to do with his age, his lack of a family and the terrible things that he's seen and had done to him. I don't know that a boy his age could be cold and calculating all the time without coming off like a sociopath. As for the edgy side of Nickel, I think that just came about naturally. When you're working on a novel in the back of a tattoo shop, and have to take breaks to hurt people before you can get back to writing, you're going to get some blood on the keyboard.
Question: What made you decide to write a novel for teens? Did you always think you would be a YA writer?
Aric Davis: Because my mom told me to. Seriously, my mother's favorite unpublished manuscript of mine was the only other YA piece that I've written, and she's been bugging me for years to write another one. When I finally accepted the idea, I tried to remember what I liked best about reading at that age, and I was a Stephen King fiend. It was those memories that made me want to write a novel that wouldn't talk down to teenagers, certainly they can't all live fairy tale lives, right?
Question: You are a roller-coaster aficionado. What do you love about roller coasters? And, if you could only go on one more roller coaster ride for the rest of your life, which roller coaster would you ride?
Aric Davis: I love nearly everything about roller coasters. From the architecture, to watching my daughter share my passion, to just the pure bliss of riding, it's a love affair that I've been carrying on since I was very young. My favorite coaster right now is Maverick at Cedar Point. As far as I'm concerned, it can do no wrong, but I gleefully anticipate finding a ride that I enjoy even more, hopefully as soon as next spring.
Nickel is a 12-year-old abuse survivor living all alone in suburban Michigan. He sells marijuana and blackmails Internet pedophiles in order to fund his real profession: clandestine detective, complete with night-vision goggles, camouflage jumpsuits, a getaway bicycle, and some not-bad jujitsu skills. Most pressing among his current caseload is the pro bono mystery of an abducted little girl. She’s probably dead, but Nickel is determined to find out who did it anyway--and it doesn’t hurt that his client, the girl’s older sister, is one heck of a dame (“It was awful to see her go but nice to watch her leave”). Writing with a deaf ear to what’s fashionable in YA, Davis’ terseness initially comes off like hardboiled spoof and risks alienating readers with its steadfastly unemotional tone. Almost slyly, though, Nickel’s one-note voice becomes affecting; read between the lines and you’ll find a damaged kid whose defense mechanism is to be a crime-fighting robot. As dark as they get, Nickel’s travails are often laugh-out-loud funny: he’s got his plan, and he’s sticking to it. Readers will, too, right through the pulse-pounding climax and the crushingly offhand sadness of the denouement. Davis hits hard--but with a surprisingly light touch. --Daniel Kraus, starred review
This is just a cool book. Well written, action packed, great main character.Published 6 days ago by book lover
Pretty much a fun and fanciful read. A story about a very young boy who has had to grow up in a hurry and who makes [overly]mature decisions about who can and should be punished... Read morePublished 16 days ago by "Tak"
This should be the beginning of a series. Awesome! Fun and enjoyable. BarbPublished 26 days ago by William A. Gilliam
Great debut book for Aric Davis, a quick, clever read. Can't wait to see what Nickel does next, hope we'll hear from him again.Published 27 days ago by Kindle Customer
Okay, no twelve year old can really do all this, but suspend your disbelief and this is a great read. So good, I'm looking for a sequel...or six. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Kindle Customer
This is The second book i have read from this author and it will be the last. There is no beginning and certainly no end with a lot of confusion in themiddle. Read morePublished 1 month ago by paddygirl