United under the banner of flash fiction, this is a collection of stories, or little ‘cells’, complete in themselves but connected by the overarching themes of betrayal and revenge. All featuring teenagers and often with an unexpected twist, these frighteningly realistic stories will take you to the very edge and beyond. (Goodreads summary)
I don’t like reviewing collections of short stories that don’t form one large story, I never known which ones to pick out and which ones to leave and sometimes its really difficult. Aidan Chambers is no doubt amazing at what he does, he is a brilliant writer and that is at the forefront of all of these stories. Some I liked more than others but I cant say I wanted to skip any, they were all very good in their own right.
I struggled slightly with these stories at first but then I realised what was going on. The stories are pieces of flash fiction, they thrust the reader into a part of a persons life with no explanation or background, then they chuck you back out again. I am unused to this in fiction even though I’m fully aware of it in theatre and improv types of drama situations. Once I realised this is what was going on I thought it was done really well and I got into the stories a lot more. I am going to go through a few of them now that really struck a chord with me.
Cindys Day Out
This was the very first story in the book and I really didn’t like it at first. I thought that if the rest of the stories were like this then I would never finish the book… but then something changed within the story. I had a lot of questions at first about Cindy/Ursula; why she was called Cindy, what was wrong in her life, why she wasn’t at some sort of place of education, what her day off was from and when she met Paul I was a lot moreinterested in the story. When some of my questions were answered I was shocked and apawled at what was revealed and I couldn’t believe that people could be the way those in Cindy/Ursulas life were.
This was another that I didn’t get into til a page or two in. Once a couple of things happened in the middle of the story I was excited and couldn’t wait to see what would come of it. I wanted to know more and loved it all. Even the beginning doesn’t seem so bad now in hindsight.
The Kissing Game
This was incredible. Right from the start the title story had me gripped, the main character in this one was intriguing and I wanted to know more about him. This was a longer short story, if you get what I mean and I was happy about that, it went into so much detail and so much depth that I was seriously impressed, yet shocked at the same time. The way t concluded was just, absolving and I had to stop and think about the story for a few minutes after reading it and moving onto the next.
Like Life and Something to Tell You
These two stories have had to go together in my review because, well, they are my favourites from the entire book. Both are told in the same way and in total together they cover eight pages. They are both told in a kind of script type way and involve a couple, not the same couple. In Like Life the girl from the couple is musing about the fact she’s 17 and nothing really serious “like life” has happened to her yet, then she gets a little bit of a shock. In Something to Tell You the boy from the couple is trying to tell the girl something important, and she blows everything out of proportion, with bad consequences. Both these stories show the different sides of people, how you can get people of around the same age who are so completely different ad who care about different things. I loved what both of these showed you about the human race and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the end of Something to Tell You!
I would recommend this collection to anyone who likes drama (as in theatre) and contemporary fiction. I think it would lend itself well to the stage and even though its just small snippets of peoples lives it works so well. Even after a slow start I would still go ahead and pick up an Aidan Chambers book now that I’ve experienced his writing.
The Kissing Game was published in March 2011 by Amulet Books, a Abrams imprint. My copy was received from the publisher following a competition on Twitter. Thank you!