Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Published: 1st September 2011
Number of Pages: 320
Book: For Review*
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Coming of Age, Contempory, Psychological Thriller-Suspense, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 15+
Contains: Violence, Suggested Sexual Assault, Drinking, Drugs, Swearing
Author's Site: Melvin Burgess

Everyone says fourteen-year-old Billie is nothing but trouble.  A fighter.  A danger to her family and friends.  But her care worker sees someone different.
Her classmate Rob is big, strong.  He can take care of himself and his brother.  But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate.
And Chris is struggling at school.  He just doesn’t want to be there.  But his dad sees a useless no-hoper.
Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell. 
But there are two sides to every story. 
And the question is… who do you believe?

Everyone’s given up on Billie.  They think she’s dangerous, a lost cause.  But her case worker can see her potential.
Rob may get beaten up a lot, but he’s strong.  Strong enough to look after himself and his brother.  But whenever he’s around his stepfather, he feels worse than rubbish.
Chris couldn’t care less about school.  He’s going to be an entrepreneur, and who needs GCSEs for that?  He knows where he wants to go, but all his dad sees is a worthless layabout.
All three are linked together, but not entirely by choice.  They’re on their last chance: can they stay out of trouble long enough to prove themselves?
Kill All Enemies was an emotional rollercoaster, one that has left me reeling.  I was hooked from the first page, never set free until the very last word.  Some parts were very shocking and a little hard to read, but I loved every single moment. This was just an amazing, amazing read.  Bravo to Melvin Burgess!
Billie Trevors got into a lot of fights.  But I could tell she tried to do the right thing.  She’d taken care of herself since she was a little kid, and by the age of ten she had so much responsibility…  Everything that had happened to her… It… well.  It broke my heart.  I mean, Billie cared so much about everything, and tried so, so hard not to fight…  And everyone had such low expectations of her: self-fulfilling prophecy anyone?  She’d had such a hard life.  Deep down, she was a real sweetie: broken, only acting hard to protect herself from being hurt again.  She didn’t think anyone could ever love her, but she couldn’t stop herself from loving.  I cried at one point.  My heart ached, my eyes burned.  It was so strong, what I felt for this girl.  She really does break your heart in a way that makes you love her so, so much.  She went through way too much.  It wasn’t fair and she didn’t deserve it.
Rob had “wrong ears”.  But he was a strong, cheerful boy, who let himself get beat up to stay out of trouble.  Which, in my opinion, takes a lot more strength than throwing a punch.  He used Metallica to protect himself from his mum and stepdad’s fighting, and he looked after his brother.  He was adorably pleased (or well chuffed) to have Billie Trevors as a mate, ‘cause she was “hard”.  And he was funny, if kinda gross.  I liked him.  He was rather weird though…   The fridge was his friend… and he had conversations with the skeleton on his Metallica t-shirt – called him “Skelly”…  I have a feeling he’s slightly mad.  And some of his ideas were kinda odd.  He was a great friend and a great brother.  And he was just so, so optimistic.  Just liked Billie, he did not deserve it – any of it.  I loved him.
Chris Trent found school boring and pointless – he planned to be an entrepreneur.  But he cared, just maybe not about school.  And I just found Chris hilarious!  His sense of humour was mildly twisted, but it really appealed to me.  Plus… he saved snails.  And he helped other people out – kinda.  He got involved – for good reasons – when he maybe should have kept to himself.  He was just too smart for his own good – a real wisecracking guy.  Chris didn’t play by the rules, but he had good human morals: he did not like bullies… and the whole snail-saving business.  He was just really funny – especially when his mouth often got away with him.  Oh, and he was mildly idiotic.  In all the heartbreak, his funniness was a nice break. 
Hannah: who was she?  That was my question for ages.  Billie mentioned her a lot, but not who she was, what she did.  But once I got to know her, our fourth narrater, I realised that she really cared for Billie.  It was obvious, and – like me – she hated everything Billie had gone through.  She was really nice, sympathetic.  But was maybe too close to Billie…
Just because I hate him so much: Philip, Rob’s stepfather.  I hated the guy, and I mean physically hated him.   Like I’ve never, ever hated anyone before.  In my head, I kept calling him very, very bad things that I never actually say.  Urgh.  (Hate him.)
The writing… wow.  All four narrators sounded completely different – I would have been able to tell who was who, even if the chapters didn’t have their names at the start. Sometimes four POVs get confusing, but in Kill All Enemies it completely worked.  It let me get into all of their heads and see all their actions, their fears.  And it was so personal – far more so than 3rd person or just one POV could have ever been.  Plus, Burgess had the teen voice perfected.  As for the plot; it was one of finding yourself, saving yourself.  There were no epic battles, no foreshadowing prophecy.  There were just the worst parts of life, the worst scenarios and attempting to overcome them.  The plot was suspenseful and powerful: I was never bored, not even for a second.  I was sucked in and I just couldn’t get the book out of my head.  I finished and it’s still stuck in my head.  And, yes, this book is honestly just that good.
Family bonds played a big part in this book.  Or lack of, in some cases.  You had heart-breaking realities, and love – so much love.  Such as the bond between Rob and his mum: it was so special.  He loved his mum so, so much – he’d do anything for her.  I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I cringed.  It was overwhelming.  But isn’t that what love and family are?
Kill All Enemies was so emotional, so powerful.   I felt everything – hate, anger, pain, heartache, depression, let down.  God, everything they went through, those kids… it broke my heart into pieces over and over and over.  Beaten by stepdads, rejected by parents, belittled by parents… It was terrible.  My heart’s still aching.  The things kids put up with… no wonder they acted out.  People made them feel worthless.  And you know what?  None of them deserved it.  People just don’t see the whole story, some don’t even try.  They should, but they don’t.  They need to listen to the so-called trouble makers.  There’s always a reason.  And there is no such thing as a lost cause.  Kill All Enemies was raw, edgy, borderline inappropriate.  It was horrible.  It was beautiful.  It was so powerful it left me breathless.  I can’t wait for my next Burgess book.

Key Quotes That I Can’t Get Out Of My Head:  “You’d be amazed at the things some of our kids have to put up with.  People see them as troublemakers, but if you knew the trouble that’s going on in their lives you wouldn’t think that.”
“These kids, to me, they’re not troublemakers – they’re heroes.  Proper, real-life heroes.”

Star Rating:
4¾ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Junk by Melvin Burgess
Before I Die and You Against Me by Jenny Downham
Being Billy by Phil Earle

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Penguin in exchange for an honest review


Luisa at Chicklish said...

Brilliant review! I totally agree with you about this book.

Vivienne said...

FAb review! Another book I still haven't got around to reading. Eep!

Hollie said...

Great review! I haven't read this book, but after reading your review I think I'll have to change that.

shah wharton said...

Wow - you do such thorough reviews. Excellent. And this book looks excellent for the YA crowed. Thanks for the insight. Shah. X

Cliona said...

Amazing review! This sounds BRILLIANT!

shah wharton said...

Stopping by again to can link this up at my weekend blog hop, collect the writing prompt and/or check out thriller author, Jim Brown's interview here: Shah. X

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Luisa: Thanks! I'm glad you loved this one too!
Vivienne: Thanks! I hope you love it if you read it!
Hollie: Thanks! Yay! You're going to love it!
Shah: Yeah, I didn't realise how long it was until I'd posted it... I think it is just perfect for the YA. Thanks! :)
Cliona: Thanks! It really, really is!
Shah: Ooh, I'll have to go have a look. :D

Penelope Sanchez said...

Kill All Enemies is a must-read book for 2011 that will send you on an emotional rollercoaster deep through the working class lives of northern England.

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