Saturday 18 September 2021


>> Read all Stella's reviews.


Switch by A.S. King     {Reviewed by STELLA}
Imagine that time stands still — the clocks stop. In A.S.King’s latest young adult’s novel, Switch, that’s precisely what happens on the 23rd June 2020. Truda is sixteen and is navigating the wilds of teenage-hood, high school and family trauma. The students at her school are tasked with finding a solution to the ‘time problem’. While N3WCLOCK is useful at reinventing a time system, it doesn’t offer any reason why. Truda and her friends are the Psych Team believing that the human mind may be able to help with escaping the time/space fold they find themselves in. Here they bat around ideas of emotions and psychological paradigms to search for a solution or at the least an understanding of the time dilemma. Truda has also discovered she is good at something — very good, in fact. Javelin throwing. Is this a result of the rift in time? A phenomenon created by the fold? A talent that may be erased if she is able to restart time? Truda, as our narrator, appears to know more than she is letting on. As a reader, you have a sense that truth sits just below her conscious self, a mystery that she is shielded from, but if she was to turn towards it she would be keenly aware of it. The novel opens with a curious description of boxes. She tells us that she lives in box #7, her brother Richard box #11, box #2 is the living room and other boxes in her house are either sealed off (in reference to her older sister’s room) or unoccupied (her mother has recently walked out) or built around the Switch — which must not be touched. The Switch is encased in a multitude of boxes continuously built by her father, who can’t help but build more and more panelled rooms, making their home into a warren of almost impassable passages. This is A.S.King stretching us to the maximum with a surreal-meets-super-real scenario. On the one hand, you have a strange world stopped in its tracks with participants who may have more control over time than others, while on the other hand the very real and hard realities of dealing with anxiety (teen and adult), resolving family trauma impacted by aberrant behaviour (in this story a sibling is the family member who has wreaked havoc and created a chasm into which the family has fallen), and looking with clarity at one’s own behaviour and trying to make a change for the better. While the subject matter isn’t easy, A.S. King’s quirky approach gives the novel levity where it would otherwise sink into the maudlin and a positive outcome for our protagonist in the strong headwinds of her awareness of her own capabilities and the vulnerabilities of others close to her, is constructive. A.S. King has dedicated Switch to the class of 2020 in light, I imagine, of the isolation and in many cases the anxiety that many have felt — especially in the US where she resides — over the previous year. As always, intriguing, timely and taut writing (the writing in itself is a time/shift/fragmented experience) from this author, winner of the Michael. L. Printz Award in 2020 for her previous YA title, Dig

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