Monday, 8 September 2014
Review: Tape by Steven Camden
Record a voice and it lasts forever…
In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.
In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.
Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.
This is their story
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Collins Childrens via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is September 23rd according to Edelweiss however Goodreads says it was released in January so I think this was a re-release.
I found this story to be cute with an interesting concept. I admit that I read a few reviews on Goodreads prior to reading this and I think that some of the comments were a little harsh for what this story is. This story is aimed for a younger audience and is therefore simplistic in it's message and dialogue. It tells the story of two young teenagers from different decades who are both dealing with the loss of a parent/parents. This is ultimately a story about family, relationships and dealing with grief. It is no more than advertised.
In an effort to be completely honest the book did have some minor room for improvement. The first being the way it transitions between Ryan and Ameliah's stories. There were no identifiers to let the reader know whose perspective we were getting. A simple edit of adding the year before each segment i.e. 1980's for Ryan, 20?? for Ameliah could have solved this. Maybe it is just me but I would have found this helpful. Also, using proper quotations when someone was speaking would have made the story flow better. This is what readers are used to and I can see how some might find an issue with this. This was an advanced copy so perhaps this will be done in the final draft. Lastly, I really didnt get the piece where Ryan and Ameliah seemed to be communicating through the tape. This seemed to be gratuitous and didn't really fit in with the story and in my opinion was not required.
I really liked the concept of Ameliah finding the tape and listening to it. It was humorous with the references to the obsolete technology of the 80's. I actually wish this concept was expanded on a little bit more and Ameliah could actually hear more of the diary. This would have developed the story even further.
Overall this was a good story geared towards a younger audience. It may not appeal to some adults out of the (younger) YA age category who traditionally enjoy YA books however it was a cute read.
About the Author
Steven Camden is one of the most acclaimed spoken-word artists in the country. As Polarbear, he has performed extensively around the UK and internationally. He also writes plays, teaches storytelling in schools, and was a lead artist for Ministry of Stories and The Roundhouse poetry collective