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The Bad Tuesdays - Strange Energy

by Benjamin J Meyers
ISBN: 978-1-84255-640-5
Orion Books
• Sam Hawksmoor review

Strange Energy is the second book in the Bad Tuesdays horror series and it grips from the first page, not wasting too much time on what went on in the previous book.  Just as well, as you’d never believe the three kids Chess and her brothers Box and the spiteful Splinter could have survived.

But they have and now Ethel, from the secret committee wants them to surrender to the Fat Gobster and find out what happens to the thousands of kids who have disappeared.  They want to know what exactly are they doing with the kids and you know it isn’t going to be pretty.

Chess is eleven and bullied by her evil thief rat brother Splinter, who has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever and sometimes she is supported by Box the pudgy middle one, but then again, he too is dominated by Splinter.  In book one they are street rats, homeless, living the best they can in wharves with other criminals and stealing to stay alive.  Their skills as thieves are harnessed by the Committee who alone wage a war again the alien Twisted Symmetry and seek to save mankind.

Having survived two adventures, this is their riskiest task yet and Splinter wonders why they do it, they have so little to gain.  Ethel and the others of the Committee try to appeal to their better natures, but Chess knows they have to try and save the kids who have been hoovered up and lost to gods knows where.  Splinter doesn’t want to but they have no choice it seems.


Splinter resents Chess.  He knows there something special about her and he wants to be special too.  Box just wants to eat mostly.  Nevertheless they allow themselves to be scooped up and they arrived on a distant planet with two suns in a far off galaxy landing hard on hot desert and then bundled on a train with hundreds of other kids that is going towards a volcano.  Splinter and Box are unessarily unpleasant to the cowering kids in the train with them and because of them Chess is almost beaten to a pulp.  The one common theme of these stories is their constant squabbling and sheer stupidity in the face of danger. Spinter things he’s too clever for his other siblings but he goes out his way to make everyone despise him.

This is the story where Chess discovers more about her talents, one of which is to cause spontaneous combustion and the relationship with Splinter finally comes to an ugly head.  Here in this remote place they also meet Balthazar who saves Box and hides them all in his spectacular tree house.  He is a lonely man who has been imprisoned by the 5 Judges on this remote planet for 500 years already and with another 500 years to go for a crime he committed long ago.

There are talking lizards who wish to fight the Twisted Symmetry and their dog troupers, half men, half dogs led by the shape shifting General.  The Jungle is full of plants that stalk you and crush you to death.  You wouldn’t want to picnic there, that’s for sure.

Benjamin Meyers has kept up the pace and the whole series is clearly ripe for TV.  Your parents probably wouldn’t approve of thieves as heroes, but the fate of the world rests on their young shoulders and they have no choice but to find a way in and try to save the screaming kids.
Highly recommended.


Blood Alchemy

Book Three of The Bad Tuesdays – Twisted Symmetry
by Benjamin J Myers
Orion Books
ISBN: 978 1-84255 641 2

Following on from book two Strange Energy, Chess, Box and Splinter are separated. Chess returns to her own time and dimension whilst Box and Splinter are caged in an always changing prison waiting to be eaten by the monster Dog trooper The General. Chess has returned older, taller, a little wiser and more confident, but she is in the hands of Ethel of the Committee again when all she wants to do if go back and free her brothers.

In this the third fast paced sci-fi adventure that has to be one of the most grisly concepts ever written for children, Chess wants to destroy the living computer that can predict where the Fat Gobster will strike and steal the children.  She wants to prevent the Twisted Symmetry getting hold of more children.  She now knows what happens to them, their tortured screams are used as energy to feed the Twisted Symmetry.

The Hunters are after her and she makes a new friend out of posh girl Anna who is a tough hockey player and knows how to handle herself.  Anna's brother, the computer hacker has been disappeared by the CREX Corporation and she and Chess have a connection, she knows it.

Chess wants to know who her parents were and the secret was left with the strange aging rock star Crazy Boris but wrapped in a thermo-nuclear package.  Nothing is ever as it seems and Lemuel the traitor who now lives in the Crex tower  (and is trying to be good) reveals that he meddled with her birth and Chess is not as human as she thought, and as such she is very much in demand by the Twisted Symmetry.

Confused? don’t be.  Start at the beginning with The Twisted Symmetry and read all three of these exciting manic and extremely dangerous street rats as they take on the worst that the Universes can throw at them and just about survive.
Whether you root for Chess or her brother Box or hate the egotistical Splinter, Blood Alchemy ticks all the right boxes, leaves you utterly exhausted and you too will discover how to make time stands still.


A Crystal Horseman

Bad Tuesdays Book. 5
by Benjamin J. Myers
Published 04/08/2011
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN 9781842556436

This is the latest and final instalment in the long running Bad Tuesdays saga that started off with The Twisted Symmetry just a few years ago. Saving the best for last. Ben Myers has delivered an action packed page-turner that makes compelling reading.

Ok, I seem to have missed out on one of the series, but it doesn’t matter at all, you quickly pick up who is who, and why. The homeless streetrats from the wharf have come a very long way from what at first seemed like a Dickensian scene, to one that encompasses deep space, robots, hybrid dogmen, invisible Warps and the Twisted Symmetry itself, who seek out pain to suck from thousands of children. They wish to store it for one last blast into the Symmetry to make them live forever and obliterate everyone else.

Box has become a smart, tough military man – still not too bright, but damn good at soldiering.  Splinter, his brother went power mad and now languishes in a kind of purgatory and is prematurely old.  He betrayed his sister Chess and is paying a very big price for that, a hollow victory.

Chess is trapped in the Mobius cell where they are filling her up with the screaming souls of the kids literally sucked from earth. She knows she can’t escape and that soon she will explode in a kind of super nova.

Meanwhile Anna, Trick and Pacer left behind on Earth miss their old buddies and are busy honing their survival skills. Anna in particular is getting so good with a sword she can use it blindfold.  She will need those skills.

Yes, you have to keep on your toes reading this.  People and dogmen change sides. No one is quite who they say they are and death is always near and body parts go missing very easily. This book is not for the squeamish.

This is Box’s story really.  Finally coming into his own, this is his quest for find his way back to rescue Chess (no matter how hard the odds are) and redeem himself in her eyes.  Supporting him in this quest are the skilled dogman Razool, Skarl and Raxa and the shape shifter Shera (who seems to want to kill him first chance she gets).  Back on earth, Ethel at the Committee is still trying to find a way to break through the new barriers that hold Chess, knowing they have just weeks or days to do this before all mankind is destroyed.

After being sent on a suicide ship to the X’ath zone and fighting the deadly spikers (that regenerate as you blast them), Box undergoes some drastic modifications to survive.  He is on his way to becoming an indestructible killing machine, a Deadbolt rider, a kind of nuclear powered warhorse, gaining the respect of the dogmen who usually only have contempt for skins (humans).

Can they rescue Chess before all hell breaks loose?

You can’t fall asleep reading this – it’s a challenge – there’s a lot going on, but anyone who ever wanted to go up a level knows that that’s how it is now.  Reading The Crystal Horseman you are on level five and everyone else is going to be left behind gasping.  You will not be disappointed.

 
 
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