Wednesday 17 July 2013

Review: Jimmy Coates: Blackout by Joe Craig

Seventh action-packed adventure for Jimmy Coates – part boy, part weapon, totally deadly…

Jimmy Coates seems like an ordinary boy, but he’s not. He’s genetically engineered to grow into the perfect government assassin. Speed, strength and deadly instinct - it’s all in the blood. He has to fight not to kill, while his government fights to kill him.

Jimmy Coates can only trust one man to bring the country back from the brink of chaos. When that man disappears, Jimmy must battle the shadow of corruption. But the shadows are darker than they seem, and the darkness reaches further than Jimmy could ever imagine.

It has been a long time coming but June finally saw the release of the seventh volume in Joe Craig's totally brilliant Jimmy Coates series. The story picks up a while after the closing events of the sixth book in the series, Jimmy Coates: Power. The British Government, still merely a puppet of the corrupt and oppressive NJ7, has finally agreed to allow a 'democratic' election to take place, and finally Jimmy and his friends start to allow the tiniest hint of optimism to creep into their lives. With a UN observer on the scene to ensure a fair election, surely the British public will grab this opportunity to throw off the yoke of authoritarian rule and elect Chris Viggo as their new leader?

If only things were that easy? Not only does Jimmy find himself up against an NJ7 that refuses to reliquish power, but the Capita are also back on the scene and it would appear that in his quest to rid Britain of NJ7 Christopher Viggo has signed a pact with the devil and now they want the H Code... whatever that is? And Jimmy is also struggling with the effects of the radiation poisoning he suffered in the Western Sahara.  just who are the mysterious pair who are parachuted into Scotland during a cunningly contrived blackout of British satellite surveillance?

I named the Jimmy Coates books as one of my favourite series of the last decade in my end-of-decade posts back in 2009, so with Jimmy Coates: Power being released in October 2008 I have had to wait a frustratingly long time for this next instalment to be published bu HarperCollins. No pressure then Joe Craig! It was then with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I started reading Jimmy Coates: Blackout when it arrived from the lovely people at HC. Would it Joe's writing and story-telling ability be as good as I remembered, bearing in mind I have read a huge amount of books for this age group in the intervening years? 

The answer is a resounding yes - I've waited nearly five years to read this and it certainly did not disappoint! This book is just as good as I remember its predecessors being, and I raced through it in a single sitting. As with previous books in the series, Blackout is a tightly plotted and fast-paced thrill ride of a story that twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until the very last page. However, if all you are expecting is a full on action story then you are in for a treat - Jimmy Coates is a brilliant, fully formed character who has to cope with the constant internal battle between his assassin programming and his own morals, conscience and love for his family and friends. 

Although not entirely essential, I would strongly recommend that if you are new to the Jimmy Coates series you start from the beginning with Jimmy Coates: Killer and work your way through the series. Joe Craig was writing dystopian fiction long before it became cool and I know quite a few boys that have loved this books and like me have been waiting impatiently for this one. Like I said, not essential as Joe Craig has written this one in a way that means it can be picked up and read on its own, but you would be doing yourself a serious disservice by doing so in my opinion. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 4+ years for Jimmy Coates: Genesis, the final book in this brilliant series.

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