CONCENTR8 by William  Sutcliffe


Age Range: 13 - 16
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A near-future thriller about overprescription.

It's a London much like the real one but for one change: the city has been funding the distribution of Concentr8, an ADHD medication, for all misbehaving students. When budget cuts lead to the discontinuation of the Concentr8 program, London erupts in riots. Amid the chaos, Blaze leads his followers Troy, Femi, Karen, and Lee away from the looting—then promptly kidnaps a municipal worker. Over the next six days, this impulsive act becomes a full-blown hostage crisis. The point of view shifts in heavily stylized voices among the kidnappers, the hostage, an investigative journalist, the mayor, even the police negotiator. Several of the teens begin to be fleshed out among all the stock characters: Troy's dedication to Blaze; Femi's desire to escape the situation; Karen's knowledge that she's got a potential future to destroy. The exception is Lee, with his degradingly portrayed developmental disability, who acts as mere set dressing. Meanwhile, the journalist seeks answers about Concentr8, and the teens begin to argue. Unfortunately, the flow is continually shattered by moralizing, primarily in the chapter epigraphs: most are lengthy quotations from real works implying ADHD is an imaginary diagnosis and Ritalin is snake oil, while several other chapters are, horrifyingly, preceded by genuine (though unattributed) tweets about ADHD medication.

This thriller is bogged down by polemic and poor character development. (Dystopian thriller. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61963-919-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2015


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