In the caged depths of an urban reservoir lives a monstrous creature. Its existence is unknown to anyone except the teenage boy who feeds it. Six years ago it was a vicious little baby, now it has grown enormous, and its rusting pen can't hold it much longer. Stephen has kept the Beast a secret against all the odds. He's got other painful secrets—like why he never sees his mother, or mentions his brother Selby, and wishes his father was dead. Stephen's life in foster care, always bad, is getting worse, and he's not a boy who plays by the rules. But his extraordinary efforts to free himself of the Beast make him a hero that listeners will never forget.
This thrilling teenage novel, which presents physical and psychological danger with masterful skill, and human relationships with warmth and wit, launches the career of an outstanding new writer.
Grade 8 Up–Stephen, a British 17-year-old, has been in and out of trouble with the law and with his various foster families since he was 7. He is gearing up for what he expects to be his worst crime yet: murder. In a fast-moving, first-person narration, he reveals that his plans aren't to kill another human–he intends to kill a beast that has been plaguing him for six years. Bit by bit, in hinted details and promises that explanations will come later, the teen plots how to rid himself of the huge crocodile his criminal father gave him without letting his foster family in on the secret. The situation soon spirals out of control, and Stephen must allow himself to trust others with his secret to rid himself of the Beast. Kennen tells the story predominantly in the present tense, and even Stephen's flashbacks, told in past tense, serve to propel the story forward. Though the characters travel from crisis to solution over the course of the novel, there is less growth than revelation about who they are under the facades they show the world. Despite its somewhat urban setting, this is the sort of story that Jack London might have written if he'd crafted tales for hip modern teens. Facts about the crocodile are naturally introduced through Stephen's commentary and dialogue with others. Some reluctant readers may stumble over Briticisms; others will be drawn in by the quick pacing and authentic voice.–Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Beast is Ally Kennen's first novel. She lives and works in the UK.
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