Guns, Shootings and YA Novels

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Guns, Shootings and YA Novels

Last night, three of our library staff attended the book launch of Cameron Raynes’ YA novel, First Person Shooter, at Avid Reader Bookstore in West End.

First Person Shooter is told through the eyes of  Jayden, a teenager in a small, rural town who enjoys playing first person shooter games on his Xbox, but who is ostracised because of his stutter. His best friend’s mother has been in prison for the manslaughter of her abusive partner  but, six days before her release, her partner’s psychopathic son returns to the town. “Told in sections, each representing a day of the week, and then six months later, the book concerns itself with maleness, soldiering, guns, butchering, bullying, assaults and more that imbues the story with a strong sense of testosterone-filled action.” (BuzzWordsBooks)

At a time when America’s gun laws are polarising the nation, guns in the hands of teenagers is a topical issue. Two other thought-provoking books are also in our library: Pig Boy by J.C.Burke and Kill the Possum by James Moloney.

Pig Boy is the story of Damon, an overweight boy living in a small, rural town who also has been ostracised, but in this instance because of his weight. The day he is unfairly expelled from school, he witnesses a terrifying event in the bush, then makes a rash decision which changes his life. To survive, he gets his gun licence and takes a job with the local pig hunter, a loner like himself.  “There were moments reading Pig Boy that I could barely breathe, such was the tension. There were moments when I was put in mind of Robert Cormier, as the reading journey grew darker. There was never a moment when I wanted to put down this taut story about small town perceptions and prejudices…JC Burke is at her best writing challenging, thought-provoking novels for older readers.” (Slightly addicted to fiction weblog)

Kill the Possum deals with the awful consequences of a family torn apart by an abusive stepfather who never grew out of being a bully. Dylan befriends his girlfriend’s brother, Tim, and, in desperation, they decide to kill the stepfather before he completely destroys the family.

All three books are gritty and absorbing, dealing with issues that are very real for many teenagers. Yet in all of them, there is hope that things will change, and life will not always seem so overwhelming.