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I'm Not Scared

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  18,603 ratings  ·  1,249 reviews
In this immensely powerful, lyrical and skillfully narrated novel, set in southern Italy, nine year-old Michele discovers a secret so momentous, so terrible, that he daren’t tell anyone about it. Read an exclusive excerpt at BookBrowse today.

The hottest summer of the twentieth century. A tiny community of five houses in the middle of wheat fields. While the adults shelter
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Anchor (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  18,603 ratings  ·  1,249 reviews

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Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to describe this book. Is it a shattering of innocence, a coming of age story, a mystery, a suspense novel or is it all of these? I was drawn into the story immediately by the short terse prose, the descriptions of the countryside and the dialogue and actions of the young children in the story. Ammaniti, has captured with accuracy the actions and thoughts of a child who is caught in an adult situation. As the reader you are viewing the events from the eyes of nine year old Miche ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A real horror. Evil is committed in pursuit of the "good", the victims are innocent and young, their innocence lost in the most painful way possible, and the story ends without any expectation of redemption or happiness for anyone.

And what a unique and brilliant narration! The author inhabits the mind of a nine-year-old boy and tells the story like a real nine-year-old. Reminded me of Esther Freud's "Hideous Kinky" but with really something extraordinary: it doesn't take Niccolo Ammaniti whole p
My second book from Nicolo Ammanati. The first was "Me and You". "I'm Not Scared" was able to rectify my complaints about the first (lack of believability, focus on only one character's development, rushed story and rash examinations of important issues), but things I was impressed by in "Me and You" fell by the wayside here (insightful emotional examination, keeping the reader's interest, no unnecessary scenes).

"Spine-tingling"? I hate to say this (because I love his writings, I really do, but
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A poignant coming of age story about the loss of innocence of a rural Italian boy.
The tale is told with enough balance as to be emotionally and intellectually engaging without being overly sentimental.

The style comes across as so effortless and the plot is so well handled, that one almost feels as if this could very well really have happened, which makes the chilling and ironic conclusion feel even more shocking and resonant.

..and since truth is stranger than fiction, who knows, perhaps it did
Despite its title, I’m scared and so is Michele, the 9-year-old narrator of this suspenseful story. It’s fast paced and wild, and you can’t help but be pulled in immediately and with full heart and soul.

Ammaniti knows how to create a grim story that has a loveable, heroic boy at its center. And he knows how to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. The book is scary, but addictive. It reads like a nightmarish fairytale. There’s good versus evil all over the place. There’s one small good guy
Diane S ☔
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set during the heat wave in the summer of 1978, in rural Italy nine year old Michele and his friends pretty much have the countryside to themselves. The parents stay in and try to alleviate the heat in whatever ways they can. Michele is only concerned about today, like most children and does not yet think about the wider picture, world events or other things that have affected his town. His only concern is having to drag his little sister everywhere, his friend Salvatore and the unelected leader ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-italian
Perfect for the learner, as this is written from a child's viewpoint which means the language is not too precious or over literary and you get to learn some of the earthy expletives (but not the truly disgusting ones) that barely figure in polite beginners' books. On top of that, it is extremely exciting, so tense that you are forced to push on to find out what happens. After the first couple of chapters I blithely ignored all that precious vocabulary that I didn't know and really ought to look ...more
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book on a dark subject written, beautifully, through the eyes of a nine year old boy in rural Italy. Ammaniti’s clean, clear prose and dialogue turns this into a page-turner about disillusionment and lost innocence. Recommended.
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sizzling story of a childhood and the horrid events that changed the aspects of the growing up process in one boy's eyes!

Great story telling...
I read this book for my Italian class. Reading in another language, especially it being my first time reading a full-length novel in Italian in this case, was a really rewarding experience and it allowed me to experience one of my favorite activities in a completely different way. I read this with a pencil in hand and circled all of the words I didn't understand (there were quite a few). I hope to do this again in the near future, with Italian and other languages, because I really enjoyed the ch ...more
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Feb 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit
Well, he may not be scared but call me utterly terrifed. I find it hard to believe the book could be better or even equal to the film which I've seen twice and I wasn't any less scared the second time.

I must confess that I've done no more than flick through the book and check the odd scene here and there. Sorry, book, but the visual spectacle of the film simply outdoes in spades anything you can do in words.

The first thing I wanted to do when I saw this film was give it to my father. It was a s
Trupti Dorge
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, i-own
This is one of the best thrillers I have read this year. This book is translated from the Italian version. The suspense in this book was not overpowering. It’s not one of those fast pace modern day thrillers.

It opens in a small isolated Italian town where a 10 year old boy discovers a secret in an abandoned farmhouse. He struggles to keep it a secret and to make sense out of what he has discovered. The descriptions of the prairie and the region are so wonderful that I could actually imagine bei
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
somehow good, somehow thin. i cannot decide. still the story according to Michelle is well told, the point of view of a 9 year old is well written
Andy Weston
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, crime, translated
Ammaniti chooses a 9 year old boy as narrator and hero of his story of a ‘kidnapping gone wrong’ in a rural part of southern Italy in a hot summer of the late 1970s.
We could do whatever we liked. No cars ever went by. There were no dangers. And the grown-ups stayed shut up indoors, like toads waiting for the heat to die down.

Of great appeal is what goes on in the mind of a boy of that age. It is story of innocence lost, as he is just beginning to sort out right from wrong, and real fears fro
• The characterisation felt weak
• Maybe the essence was lost in translation?
• By the last chapter it felt like the author thought to themself "Hmm I'm tired of telling this story. Let's wrap it up as abruptly and ambiguously as possible."
Nine-year-old Michele is the narrator. He lives in Southern Italy in a small settlement of four houses surrounded by farmland. He has a small circle of friends, his family is poor but he and his sister live in a loving home.
Michele stumbles upon a boy of his own age who has been kidnapped. What follows is Michele coming to grips with a boy being kept in a hole. Somehow there is an apparent normality as the entire settlement seems to be involved.
Written in the first person and narrated by a nine
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Feel the heat.

A blazing summer in the small poverty-stricken village in southern Italy where the action takes place is so well evoked you almost sweat. Told in the voice of a 9 year-old boy, it’s a vivid portrayal of childhood combined with a deeply disturbing discovery of what it means to be adult. This is gripping and unforgettable storytelling with a convincing juvenile narrator.
Jim Fonseca
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italian-authors

A young boy’s coming of age story with a twist: imagine if as you grow up you learn your parents are vicious criminals? Quite a horror story and a lot of local color of the Italian countryside as the work is translated from the Italian. A lot of dialog, so a quick read.
Elizabeth A
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: translated, 2017
“Stop all this talk about monsters, Michele. Monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of, not monsters.”

This coming of age story is translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt.

A bunch of kids are out riding their bikes in a tiny village in Southern Italy. On a dare one of them enters an abandoned farmhouse and stumbles upon something horrible.

The protagonist of this story is a nine year old boy, and themes explored include the loss of childhood innocence, and the confusion of tryin
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1001-books
I have no idea why this is on the 1001 books list. The description here at Goodreads says it is a coming of age story. If it is, then I don't know the definition of the term. The narrator is 9 years old, does not get older in the story, and though he gains understanding about the circumstances in the novel, does not seem to gain understanding about life in general.

I found nothing particularly scary about the book. In the first few pages the narrator tells us something that happens to him 10 year
Bark  |  Laurie  |  LOHF
Nov 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a coming of age tale about a young boy who stumbles upon a dark secret with links to his family. I hate to give away too much because the book is short and the plot should be a surprise.

It is well written with a beautiful sense of time, place and characterization. The main character of the story is a nine year old boy enjoying a sweltering summer with his friend's and younger sister who is torn by the things he learns. He makes choices that I thought were very realistically written
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And again a really good book of Niccolò Ammaniti. I was so eager to know how the story would end that I just couldn't put the book away and kept on reading. What I really liked about this book was that it is written in the point-of-view of a 9 year old boy. ...more
I had to read this book for my Italian oral exam this week. I've studied Italian for less than a year, so I'm already proud I got the gist of this and definitely cannot comment on the language.

The story was actually really interesting and gripping for the most part. The hottest summer in Southern Italy ever. The kids go out to play in the fields all day. Nine-year old Michele has to go into an abandoned farmhouse on a dare and finds a kid his age stuck in a hole, presumably kidnapped. The plot
Michael Cayley
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
This is a vivid portrayal of children in impoverished rural South Italy caught up in the ruthless actions of an adult world they do not fully understand. It is told from the viewpoint of 9-year-old Michele. He and a gang stumble across a derelict house. As a forfeit he clambers up to the first floor and makes his dangerous way across it, to drop down the other side of the building. There he comes across something which he dare not tell the other children about, and which haunts him in the weeks ...more
MJ Nicholls
A small-town kidnapping tale, told from the POV of an ickle boy. What vexes me about narrators close to the child's perspective is that the narrator is usually a grown-up narrating their childhood from twenty or so years on. The same is true here: the grown-up Michele is narrating his childhood twenty-odd years later. My question: why would a grown-up write his story with such a close childhood POV unless he was a writer who had consciously taken that decision to sustain such a narrative positio ...more
Mark Joyce
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
The adult world viewed through the eyes of a child can occasionally make for interesting literature. It can equally be a means of getting away with some pretty infantile writing in a book that is ostensibly for grownups. For all the inflated reviews, I’m Not Scared is more an example of the latter. Perhaps something was lost in translation. Not awful by any means, but I suspect I would have enjoyed more if I were fourteen and temporarily estranged from my Stephen King and James Herbert collectio ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There is much about "I'm Not Scared" that reminds me of Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" -- the boy hidden away, a sacrifice for a community down on its luck. It is a portrait of a nine-year-old boy torn between a kind of doppelganger and his own father in determining what is right, and it captures a boy's voice and morality. Ammaniti's novel is well-paced and suspenseful, the kind of book you want to read in one sitting. ...more
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love the ending of this! I'm not the biggest fan of the writing style and I feel like it's partially due to the translation but I really liked the setting and the atmosphere. I wish the plot was a little more complex and charactes developed a bit more but I overall enjoyed it quite a lot. More than I expected to. And I love how graphic some descriptions are, Ammaniti doesn't shy away from describing ugly and dirty scenes. ...more
Spencer Fancutt
Great little pageturner. Ammaniti delivers a pitch-perfect coming-of-age thriller impossible not to burn through. The close feels too abrupt, but the plot has a reader going at such a compulsive speed, there is hardly the time to put the brakes on.
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Reading 1001: I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti 4 17 Dec 20, 2020 12:32PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect capitalization in title 2 14 Jun 15, 2019 07:04AM  
Play Book Tag: I'm Not Scared - Niccolo Ammaniti (4 1/2 stars) 1 8 Apr 25, 2019 06:01PM  
Around the Year i...: I'm Not Scared, by Niccolò Ammaniti 2 26 Aug 11, 2016 09:39PM  
The ending 7 172 Nov 15, 2014 03:36PM  
Other thrillers with teenage protagonists? 2 18 Jul 20, 2014 10:08AM  
Goodreads Librari...: I did something wrong? 3 85 Jan 16, 2013 10:36AM  

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Niccolò Ammaniti was born in Rome in 1966. He has written three novels and a collection of short stories. He won the prestigious Italian Viareggio-Repaci Prize for Fiction with his bestselling novel I'm Not Scared, which has been translated into thirty-five languages. ...more

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“Monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of, not monsters.” 74 likes
“Piantala con questi mostri, Michele. I mostri non esistono. I fantasmi, i lupi mannari, le streghe sono fesserie inventate per mettere paura ai creduloni come te. Devi avere paura degli uomini, non dei mostri.” 13 likes
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