Today’s throwback Thursday post is my review of Breakers by Doug Johnstone, that I received from Karen as a part surprise – part YOU NEED TO READ THIS recommendation. To this day it stays up there with my top reads of the year, it’s a purely brilliant portrayal of poverty and crime in the Scotish capital. It blew me away, one of the biggest book hangovers that I’ve had this year!
Breakers by Doug Johnstone was published in paperback on the 16th of May, you can grab yourself a copy here.
Usually I’m a stickler for reading my TBR pile in order (I have been known to fall into reader’s rebellion though) but due to the cracking review by Drew the Tattooed Blogger, which you can find here, I read it ASAP! I regretted nothing!
Doug Johnstone has written nine novels, including the more recent Fault Lines. Several of his other novels have been aware winners AND his work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Some of his work has also been opted for film and television! How awesome is that! Here’s a little taster of Breakers, just for you (in the form of the blurb!)
“A toxic family … a fight for survival…
Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.
On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.
With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.”
As I’ve already said, I was gifted Breakers by Orenda Books, Karen told me that I was going to love it and my god has she hit the nail on the head. Usually, I try and write up a review the day I finish a book, it helps get in all the feels of the read. Breakers was an exception, I needed to let those feeling simmer down because I was floored, catatonic and just plain gobsmacked at this under 300 pages whirlwind of a book. this is what I tweeted IMMEDIATELY after finishing the book:
“I’m speechless, emotional and just in awe of Doug Johnstone’s newest novel #Breakers. I’ve just finished, I feel completely catatonic from the dark despairing plot. Pure brilliance!“
This should be enough for you to run and pre-order the book here but if you need more convincing, I shall share with you why you NEED this book!
The opening chapter of the book we get to meet Tyler and Bethany aka Bean siblings who completely and utterly dote on one another. Bean is the Apple of Tyler’s eye, as he is hers. All he wants to do is protect her from toxicity that’s personified by their bully of a half brother, half sister and her alcohol and drug addicted mother. My heart broke from the very first chapter, I felt that these were two amazing characters who had been let down by those safeguards within society used to protect children from these types of families. It made me quite angry if I’m honest, because both Bean and Tyler deserved the world.
The setting of Breakers is the criminal side of such a beautiful city, Edinburgh. We are always, as a society, quite ignorant on what happens on the other side of our ‘perfect’, and wow does this book open your eyes to a despairing dark reality, one that many families experience every day. Although this read is one of fiction, the underlying theme is that of non – fiction. Tyler lives in a deprived area with drug dens, gangs and run down homes. Survival is at its peak from these people, yet brand new houses are being built to bring people into the area? Possibly to ‘up’ the place? I feel like this is a perfect example of the saying ‘you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig’. It brings the realism of poverty, how poverty stricken families are expected to live without help or sympathy for addicts etc.
I have to say, the characterization and the overall visualisation that is weaved into Breakers are extraordinary, exceptional, brilliant…. must I say anymore? I can’t flaw anything about Breakers, not even a little bit! The writing made me feel a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness, to happiness to detestation. Let’s just say, Breakers will 100% be there on my 2019 best reads list, without a doubt!
The themes represented throughout the narrative work together, to create this deeply thought provoking thriller, including the teaching of children to become criminals so they can help an otherwise under-dog group of people. Tyler, I can’t express how much I adore this character, he’s a criminal but he is selfless, kind and mature. I’d describe him as Bean’s answer to Robin Hood, he steals things Bean would like, thinks what they need at home etc. I was rooting for him from the get go. These two characters have worked their way inti my heart, i’m emotionally attached to these wonderfully written characters, I just can’t let go! My heart! Whereas, on the flip side, Tyler and Bean’s siblings are Edinburgh’s version (or so they think) to Bonnie and Clyde, I just wanted to grab them and give them a slap or two! I think it’s a huge talent to be able to create characterization that causes an emotional reaction, my golly, Doug most definitley possesses that talent!
The penmanship of this novel is beautiful, at times poetic with a few dashes of darkness. I was hooked like a fish until the last page, such a compulsive read that will transport you into a the criminal world of Scotland. I have ‘reader’s claw’ from not being able to put this book down, especially seeing as it’s easy to say ‘one more chapter’ with the short snappy chapters. Prepare to be completely blown away.
PURE Brilliance! (yes it is that good!)
I hope that you love this read as much as I did! Doug had all the stars off me! If you’re intrigued by the man behind the book, you should definitely tune in tomorrow, I might (I do) have an #Orentober Q&A treat for you!
Thanks for reading!