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THE RUINOUS SWEEP by Tim Wynne-Jones


by Tim Wynne-Jones

Pub Date: June 26th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9745-7
Publisher: Candlewick

A teen boy with anger issues, critically injured in a car accident, is suspected of murdering his alcoholic father and staunchly defended by his high school girlfriend, Bee.

The first part of Wynne-Jones’ (Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes, 2016, etc.) novel has a hallucinatory quality. Occasional chapters describe Bee’s vigil by Donovan’s bedside in the ICU, while the bulk of the text describes Dono’s travels through a nightmarish world fraught with violence and danger. A series of bizarre encounters and escapes keeps readers off-balance, unsure what details, if any, are real. In this section, similarities to Dante’s Inferno may or may not resonate with teen readers. A sharp break in the narrative occurs after a dramatic event and shifts the focus to Bee and the tone from horror-inflected to whodunit. Bee’s detecting efforts bear fruit, but her foolhardy risk-taking is clearly plot-driven and may frustrate some readers. Wynne-Jones’ writing is smooth and compelling, and certain images will likely linger in readers’ minds. However, most characters are adults, which may distance some teens, and the motivation for the murder is both decidedly adult and not entirely convincing. Some aspects of the first section never quite connect to the rest, while the enigmatic author’s note raises further questions. No racial diversity is apparent; class differences are implied.

Suspenseful and complex, this will mesmerize readers patient enough to stick with it.

(author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)