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August: Book review

August - book review

Reviewed by's Mira Bradshaw

Bernard Beckett is the author of a number of popular and award winning books for young adults. His latest book, August, is as striking and surprising as its cover.

August starts with two young people in a car that crashes due to ice on the road. Badly injured and suspended upside down, they share their stories with each other.

Tristran, the driver, has overcome his humble origins to be educated at the prestigious St Augustines. The institution focuses almost entirely on philosophy and religion.

Tristran's success and intellect leads him to become involved with the exploration of free will and determinism.

Meanwhile, his unnamed female companion has a complicated history of her own beginning in a convent, but eventually leading her to the car crash.

Beckett successfully intertwines complex concepts of causality, destiny, philosophy and religion with an intimate study of two characters. He thoroughly examines the idea that chance encounters and spur of the moment decisions can change the course of your life.

Although the subject matter is dark at times, Beckett's world focuses on his two protagonists, drawing readers into the story and making this book difficult to put down.

For young adults, this is the sort of book that could change the way you think about the world. It reminded me a great deal of Neal Stephenson's award-winning Anathem, except that Beckett's novel is clearly aimed at a young adult audience.

Because of the subject matter, this book may not appeal to all young adult readers.  However, it is fundamentally an intriguing story that is well told, which always makes for a good read.

August, by Bernard Beckett
Publisher: Penguin
RRP: $30
Available: March 2011