Sam’s Review of The Tube Riders by Chris Ward

So first of all, I am thrilled to be writing this review right now. I love love love books and it is my personal belief that the best part about reading is talking about it with someone else. I think talking about reading makes the experience a lot more meaningful. Us book folk have to stick together right?

I am currently obsessed with Young Adult Dystopic Fiction, so I literally jumped at the chance to read The Tube Riders by Chris Ward. The story takes place in futuristic Mega Britain where a corrupt and terrible leader called the Governor has been ruling for over 40 years. He is hell-bent on bringing Mega Britain to the forefront of space exploration while keeping his country a big secret from the rest of the world.

In the name of the Governor and his space initiative, London has been reduced to a violent slum, which sports very high perimeter walls to keep all residents in. It is a scary place to live. Guns, knives, and screwdrivers are essential tools of survival. People are reduced to doing unspeakable things simply to put food on the table. The citizens live in constant fear for their lives. No one is spared the tragedy of losing a loved one whether it’s due to untimely and brutal death or mysterious disappearance.

Ward’s story centers around a group of misfits called the Tube Riders. The only way that Marta, Paul, Simon, and Switch have found to cope with the dismal circumstances of their lives is by engaging in the dangerous pastime of riding the trains in the Underground. Using a device called a “clawboard,” this group runs after the incoming train, jumps, catches the rail, and then rides and jumps off before the train disappears through the exit arch. Little do they know, this will be the very skill that will save them all later on.

All goes wrong when a rival gang, the Cross Jumpers, show up to their abandoned Tube Station to ambush them. The Cross Jumpers, led by a woman called Dreggo, are jealous of the infamous stories and whispers about the Tube Riders and aim to eliminate them once and for all. In an attempt to flee the Cross Jumpers, the Tube Riders catch a train and hang on for dear life, dismounting at what they think is the next abandoned station.

A case of wrong place, wrong time gets them into more trouble than they are prepared to handle when they witness a government assassination, which they conveniently tape on one of the country’s last contraband digital cameras…

If news of the assassination got out to the public or worse, the world, then Mega Britain would have a revolution and world war on its hands, neither of which the Governor wants.

So, we have The Tube Riders (who are being pursued by the Governor), a team of secret agents, Dreggo and her Cross Jumpers…and because they don’t have enough to deal with, let’s add the Huntsmen. Huntsmen are the Governor’s high tech super killers. Hybrid human/ dog/ computers who have super strength, super smell, and no remorse. Their targets are the Tube Riders. These bloodthirsty beasts will not stop until they bring their prey, and anyone connected with them, to their brutal and  violent death.

What follows is a long game of cat and cat and cat and mouse as the Tube Riders attempt to flee to France with the information of the assassination. The Tube Riders try their best to hold their pursuers off at every turn. Along the way they learn that the assassination they witnessed is only the tip of the iceberg and the Governor’s reign goes much deeper than even the terrible Huntsmen.

I have to admit that I felt very overwhelmed while reading this book. The story weaves in and out of each character, not only the Tube Riders but also the Governor, Dreggo, two agents, a Huntsman, and many other characters we meet along the way. None of these characters were free of baggage, and serious baggage at that. That, combined with the colorful street language and necessity of survival, is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

But, despite the fact that I felt emotionally drained each time I put the book down, I still kept going back for more. It was slow going, but well worth it. At the core this story had a very solid plot, which meant  that no matter how many characters there were or how sad their plight, it was all held together by a cohesive thread. That thread, I think, is that each of these characters were real. Everyone from the sinister Governor to the street wise Switch had elements of both good and evil. These people exist in our world, which makes them all the more interesting. I imagine that there will be another chapter in The Tube Riders series and I for am looking forward to what comes next.

3 out of 5 Stars

The Tube Riders by Chris Ward
CreateSpace (2012)
eBook: 624 pages
ISBN: 1475116500

Special thanks to the author for my review copy!

The October Round Up!

I can’t believe it’s time to write yet another round up post.  October wasn’t super packed with stuff, so I got a lot of good reading time in.  The highlight of the month though was definitely heading to my favorite bookstore, R.J. Julia, and seeing Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis discuss their newest book Invisible Murder.  The book is the second in their Nina Borg chronicles, the first being The Boy in the Suitcase (which I reviewed here).  Hearing them discuss the research that went into the book, their travels through Hungary, and the tragic stories of what life is like in Hungary for gypsies was harrowing.  I’m excited that I have some background on the real life instances that parts of the book are based on.  It’ll only add that much more to my reading of it.

Me and two of my best friends Kate & Ashley!

We also participated in our second read-a-thon of the year!  Todd and I made it through an hour longer than our first read-a-thon and completed more books as well. We considered it a success and are already looking forward to the next one in the spring.

Besides the read-a-thon our month was spent celebrating our birthdays and Halloween!  Our birthday celebration consisted of Todd, me, and 12 of our friends hitting up downtown New Haven for pizza and beers.  Following dinner we took the group saki bombing!  Those unfamiliar with the term – you take a glass and fill it about halfway with beer (preferably Japanese beer) and then balance a shot of hot saki on top.  You bang the table, let the shot drop in the beer, and then chug down the rest. (Sounds gross but is actually really delicious!)  It was a fabulous celebration and I can’t wait till next year!

Our Halloween party was as always a ton of fun.  Todd’s home-brewed pumpkin beer was a huge smash. (Such a smash all 5 gallons was drunk in one night!)  Everyone went all out on their costumes this year! (Todd and I were newsies) I’m already anticipating how we’re all going to top ourselves next year.

October was a fantastic reading month!  I met my second reading goal of the year of 160 books and have decided to up the goal to 200 books by year-end.  As of today I’m at 176, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it through 24 more before year-end.  I completed 19 books in October with my favorite being The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley (my review is here).  Great great great book.  I really hope y’all will add it to your to-read piles.

The staff has been diligently working on getting through a whole slew of books this month. Adam’s been reading the historical fiction novel Deal With The Devil Part II and recently posted his review for it.  His next review is for a young adult mythology book, Pantheons.  Todd’s been reading a new thriller novel Targets of Deception and the fiction novel Believe Like A Child.  Christine’s been reading a short story/poetry anthology called Everblossom.  Jess is reading the memoir Taking Flak, while Charlie’s been working on a review of the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I do also want to inform all of you about the addition of another staff blogger for the Reflections team, Sam!  Sam’s been working on a young adult dystopian thriller, The Tube Riders.  You can find out more about Sam and her reading tastes on The Staff page!

Let us know what you read last month and what books we should be adding to our to-read piles! As always, happy reading!