What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed?
That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself – together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished ‘heritage’ crimes of their parents.
Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home – and when things finally erupt, they realize they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame.
Even though I normally read contemporary YA, this book’s unique and original concept caught my eye when it was mentioned in a video by Penguin Platform, and I was keen to read it! The novel was fast-paced and action packed, and I was very glad I’d picked it up over the SundayYAthon (which I posted about here).
One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the characters. Ant was very different to your average protagonist in her appearance, with a shaven head and goose tattoos, and these bold choices reflected her personality perfectly; she was plucky and brave. I thought she was a great main character, as she definitely kept the plot moving along and was clever enough to be able to think her way out of most of the sticky situations she ended up in, although she sounded pretty intimidating from time to time too! I also liked that she had a vulnerable side, too, and that she had such a strong love for her family, as it made her more relatable. I would have liked to have seen a bit of character development from some of the secondary characters, mainly Ant’s friends, as there was some, but seeing as Simon Mayo made Ant such a memorable character, I thought he could’ve done a little more on the other characters too, although many of them were excellent (such as Grey, Max, and of course, Mattie – he was one of my favourite characters!).
Another thing I loved about this book was how suspenseful it was. There were so many twists and turns, and things went wrong very often. Obviously, they always managed to get themselves out of the problem, but it was always in a way that I doubt I would’ve thought of – Ant in particular thought on her feet very quickly – and because I couldn’t really see a way out, every time I was kept in suspense about what would happen next. The ending felt particularly fitting, although it did feel a little unrealistic that they’d allow the new straps, or for them to re-strap each other when it seemed to be such a specialist task.
The idea behind the book was also particularly interesting. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it, and the idea of heritage crime – that the children and grandchildren of criminals had to atone for crimes they didn’t do – was particularly thought-provoking, particularly when it was linked back to the idea of the society wanting someone to blame.
Overall, this book had a premise that I found engaging, and it was packed with plot twists and action, so I would recommend Blame to those who look for those things in book, especially if you like bold protagonists like Ant.