Beth_Adele's Reviews > This Is Not a Drill

This Is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell
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Sep 23, 12


A multi-faceted read.

When I first picked up this proof, I didn't realise it was a YA novel. I brought it home and my 14 year old son honed in on it. (The other proofs I had piled on the shelf all seem to contain vampires or werewolves which are not his thing.) He devoured this book in a 3 hour sitting and proceeded to stroke it like he was Golem protecting his precious. Which is why, although I am in the middle of a few other reads, I put them down to read this one. And I am glad I did.

Teenagers are remarkable, and what I liked most about this book was how the author chose to tell this through the eyes of Jake and Emery. Two 17 year olds. Two teens with problems of their own and with each other, who under extraordinary circumstances have to rise above it all and be exceptional. Because really, teens cop a bad wrap and this is perhaps the reason that I enjoy YA. In YA teens are given permission to shine.

Both protagonists are battling demons of their own and are suddenly thrown into a life or death situation where they must deal with the demons of their captor, whilst keeping a classroom of first graders safe from harm.

There is a beautiful tenderness in these pages. The younger children are drawn with clarity and their interactions with their teacher, Jake and Emery, each other and even their captor evoke a miscellany of emotions.

For me, it was those interactions and the parts where Stutts tells pieces of his story, that really made this a provocative and profound tale. PTSD is not the easiest thing to portray, and it's the slow reveal of Stutts's mental state and the things that lead him there that give his PTSD a believability I have found lacking in other tales.

There are parts to this tale that are gut wrenching. Moments where you see the unravelling and want to reach out your hand to stop it from happening but you can't. You're bound by the barrier of the page and the story already told and you feel utterly helpless but unable to look away.

This is not a Drill, is no ordinary, run of the mill YA.
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