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Book Review: Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess

Kill All EnemiesTitle: Kill All Enemies
Author: Melvin Burgess
Series: N/A
Pages: 271
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date of Publication: 1st September 2011
Source: Publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Everyone says fourteen-year-old Billie is nothing but trouble. A fighter. A danger to her family and friends. But her care worker sees someone different. Her classmate Rob is big, strong; he can take care of himself and his brother. But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate. And Chris is struggling at school; he just doesn't want to be there. But his dad sees a useless no-hoper. Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell. But there are two sides to every story, and the question is ...who do you believe?

My Thoughts:
I wasn't sure what I was going to think about Kill All Enemies before I read it. On the one hand, it sounded really interesting and I was curious to find out about what the 'troublesome' kids thought when they were fighting, or running away etc, but on the other hand I'd never read anything like it before, and I was a little bit apprehensive. But, I thought I may as well give it a go, as I like to try new things every once in a while. And I'm glad I did, because Kill All Enemies was awesome.

The book focuses on three different characters - Billie, Chris and Rob. Billie has a reputation for being trouble, always getting involved in fights, and even her mother doesn't want her. Chris wants to be an entrepreneur - he thinks school is a waste of time, he just wants to get out into the world and make money. And lastly Rob, he's big and stong, and he can take care of himself and his brother, until his violent stepdad gets involved, that is. All three of these characters are much more than they seem, and I loved reading about them.

My favourite of the three kids to read about had to be Billie. Even though I didn't understand her at the beginning, couldn't understand why she would get into fights because of something small, I believed that there was a reason for how she acted, and I kept an open mind about her, and slowly, I began to understand. Once I found out the reasons behind her constant fighting, I realised how hard she was trying and how determined she was, and a quote from Hannah (her social worker) summed up my thoughts about her really well:

What is it about that girl? How come we all keep on coming back to her, despite everything she does? She's violent, unpredictable; she's dangerous. And you can't help loving her. ~ pg 144-1445 (UK proof copy)

I think it was Hannah who made me think the most. She is a care worker at the Brant, the place where the kids go when they get kicked out of school. She had a few chapters from her point of view throughout the book, and they made me realise things that I never would have realised before. Small things, like how the kids are actually normal people with normal dreams in life, but something has happened to them that means they react to things differently and have different thoughts to the 'non-troublesome' kids at school. Or, that the kids are actually heroes, as Hannah so wonderfully puts here:

Those kids, to me, they're not troublemakers - they'e heroes. Proper, real-life heroes. Giving up their chances in life to make sure that the people who are important to them are properly cared for - that's heroic, isn't it? - pg 179 (UK Uncorrected Bound Proof edition)

Then there were Rob and Chris. Their two stories interwove together brilliantly throughout the book - from the start where Chris is a bully to Rob, to the end when they are really good friends. Rob was probably the one that I related to most - if I was bullied like he was at school, I probably would just have let them do it, and not fight back, just like him. And I understood why he couldn't tell his mum what his stepdad was doing to him - he was SO caring, and didn't want to do anything to hurt his mum or his brother, but people just couldn't see that... It made me sad, and a little angry. And Chris, he just wanted to get on with his life - he didn't see the point of school, as there was nothing to learn that would benefit his future career. He was probably the one who was least likely to get into trouble, but he ended up being the one who got hurt. I felt sorry for him, and I'm glad the ending worked for him. ;)

The only thing that I can fault is that the ending felt unrealistic and a little bit rushed. I really liked it, the idea was brilliant and it was the happy ending that I wanted, I just think that Melvin could have maybe taken a couple more pages just to space it out a little bit, and not make it so rushed. In my opinion, anyway.
Overall though, I'd recommend this to all YA contemporary fans. This was my first Melvin Burgess book, and I don't think it'll be my last. Described as 'Hard-hitting, shocking, powerful' and I'd agree with that. So buy yourself a copy, if you're looking for something that will truly make you think :)

My Rating:
I give it 4 Feet!

2011 100+ Reading Challenge #69


  1. Great review! I will have to check this one out! New follower here :)

    Amy @ Following The Reader


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