16 November 2011
Author: Kevin Brooks
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Chicken House
UK Release date: 2005
Genre: Contemporary YA
Joe Brooks is a regular 15 year old boy from a nice English suburban neighbourhood. When an unassuming visit to London leads Joe into a chance encounter with Candy, he ends up falling desperately in love with her despite the dangerous situations he finds himself in and the murky underworld he is dragged into.
Review: When I first started reading I was a little confused about what was happening, a little like Joe I guess, because neither of us realised for a while that Candy was actually a prostitute. (I don't often read the synopsis, so please forgive me!) I think for both of us it helped us see Candy first as a real person, and not as the label 'prostitute'. To some degree I guess it also made me see why Joe might have fallen for Candy despite her situation.
The middle of the story slowed down for me, which could have because Joe's narrative felt quite slow and rambling. By which I mean, he was often confused and trying to figure out his own feelings without coming to any decision of why he liked Candy or why he was so hung up about finding her. His voice did however feel very real and typical of a young boy, and I guess a 15 year old boy's feelings aren't a perspective we often read about.
Pimp and all-round hard guy Iggy scared the living daylights out of me. When Joe went looking for Candy and came face to face the dangerous man, the plot and tension really picked up for me. Although I couldn't stop reading I almost didn't want to read for fear of what might happen to unwitting Joe. Sometimes I just wanted to shake him and wake him from his spaced out addiction to Candy!
Kevin Brooks dissected some complex serious issues including prostitution and drug use with a sensitive touch and a certain genuineness. Although Candy was stuck in a world of addiction, abuse and prostitution, we didn't see all the horrible, harsh realities of her lifestyle - we saw enough to understand how low she had fallen, but I could still empathise with her and felt sorry for how things had fallen apart in her life. I also appreciated the fact that Joe and Candy's experiences were at polar opposites despite the fact that they grew up in the same village and had similar upbringings. Not only because it showed how tiny little things could lead someone from even a nice background to get caught up in drugs and prostitiion without realising, but because Joe's naivety and lack of understanding about certain things meant I wasn't isolated as a similarly niaive reader.
I haven't quite decided what my final thoughts are about Candy, because the way Kevin Brooks wrote about such real life subjects was done really well, but at the same time Joe's narrative was so vague in his reasoning and thought processes that I got frustrated at his ramblings. His viewpoint and the subject matter though are really interesting and different from other YA stories I've read, so if you're looking for something a little different, but very real then you should really read this.