I'll admit it up front: I'm a big Dave Cousins fan. His debut, Fifteen Days Without a Head, was stunning. Gritty, dark and honest, not to mention the brilliance of the title. And it's just won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Europe, so I'm feeling pretty smug sat up on my high horse right now.
Waiting for Gonzo is different. The grittiness is gone, replaced by funny. As you watch Oz's world deteriorate following one (usually Oz-driven) catastrophe after another, you can't help but smile along with fearing for him, because Oz is a real teenager, doing all the real things teenagers do. He sees a photo on a wall at school, and the next thing he knows, he's drawing a moustache on it. From then on in, Oz's world tumbles.
The honesty of Dave Cousins' writing remains. He has a fantastic touch when it comes to relationships, and in Gonzo, those relationships are constantly being tested. There's his mum and dad, who have just forced Oz to relocate to the middle of nowhere, away from his friends and city life. There's his sister, who... well, that would be giving things away, wouldn't it? And then there are the people Oz meets at his new school, who are as varied and unpredictable as you can imagine, from a boy who dresses as a Hobbit in his spare time to the girl who starts appearing more and more in Oz's like after he adds a certain moustache to her photo.
|What? Do I have something on my face?|
This is an easy book to read, because it involves you so quickly. Oz himself is hot-headed, eager to be accepted, but ultimately he wants to do right by people. Watching him feel his way forwards through disaster after disaster is as captivating as it is fun.
And guess what? Like Fifteen Days Without a Head, Waiting for Gonzo is simply stunning.
Teen review, by Emily, age 15
This is a light-hearted and easy to read book about the trials and tribulations of a city boy, moving to what he views as a very strange and small countryside community. I thought that the slightly more unique way of writing, where the book is written for someone, ‘G’, is very interesting and enjoyable to read. Part of the enjoyment is in trying to work out who ‘G’ is, and also what the developing countdown in the narration is leading up to.
Although this sounds as though it was essentially a carefree book, it does in fact deal with some difficult issues: the book deals with these in a mature and sensitive manner. I enjoyed the book, and I think the ideal reader age would be perhaps 10+ as the language is not too advanced for younger readers but still engaging.
There are only 3 days left to enter our Gonzo giveaway! Just send us an email at SpaceOnTheBookshelf@yahoo.com with your name and address, and 'Gonzo' in the header. The winner will be drawn on Friday 10th May.