Jack is obsessed by luck. He lets the toss of a coin rule his actions, whatever the risks. Chance brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life, but their luck won’t last for ever. During a night of heady recklessness, they run out of choices. Now it is the reader’s turn to take a risk, spin a coin and determine life… or death.
Chance. Luck. Fate. Destiny. Choices. Reactions. Timing.
Much like Jack’s coin, my head is still spinning days after reading Nicola Morgan’s excellent Wasted. But this is a good thing. The book throws up a lot of questions and ideas and it’s made me look at some of these with fresh perspective.
With so much at stake, Wasted needs brilliant characters to play their part in its story and they are here in abundance. The two strong central characters of Jack and Jess are attractive and talented young people who are also deeply sympathetic because of what they’ve had to deal with in their past and what they’re currently going through. Their relationships with each other and with music are intense and passionate and I loved that both were treated in this way. It added depth to an already multi-layered novel. Of the other characters, I particularly liked Spike and Sam, but I’ll leave you to find out who they are and why I might have warmed to them.
Reading Wasted is a lot like how I imagine reading speed chess or draughts would feel. You don’t just get the story from one character’s viewpoint but that of several different narrators, one of whom is omniscient. So you get into the characters’ heads and know what they’re thinking when they are in a situation or about to make a decision but you also hear more distanced but all-seeing, all-knowing ruminations on how things could pan out. In addition to this, you are also privy to knowing some of the other directions the story could have taken – the What-If’s? This all combines to make you feel that, while the characters certainly make choices throughout the book, they are also pieces being moved around on a board of life.
Every time I came up against one of these What-If’s? I stopped reading. And then re-read that section. Not because I was frustrated or confused. I simply wanted to spend some time looking at the different options and considering where each of them would have taken the story – and the characters. It was fascinating doing this and thinking about how our own lives are made up of a series of seemingly random and often small decisions or actions. Some of these are so small that we probably don’t even consider them to be proper decisions. We do them automatically.
I wouldn’t only recommend Wasted to you because it throws up so much to think about. Even if you do stop and re-read sections of it, this is a fast-paced and thrilling read. I not only couldn’t put it down, but I can’t wait to pick it up and start reading all over again.
Wasted is Nicola Morgan’s latest YA novel. It has its own blog, Talk About Wasted. Nicola is visiting other blogs to promote the book this month and she’ll be here at The Nut Press tomorrow (May 23).