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Melvin Burgess was brought up in Sussex and Berkshire. As a child, his reading included The Wind in the Willows and Gerald Durrell's animal stories. He went on to enjoy The Hobbit and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. A generally unconfident student, he became interested in writing when he was twelve and an English teacher praised one of his stories - "it was about the first time I'd ever done anything that got an A. I was so pleased I never stopped." After leaving school, Melvin moved to Bristol where he worked on occasional jobs, mainly in the building industry, and was often unemployed. He started writing in his twenties and wrote on and off for the next fifteen years before The Cry of the Wolf was published in 1990. He moved to London in 1983 and began a small business marbling fabrics for the fashion industry. In 1997 his controversial bestseller Junk won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal. It was also shortlisted for the 1998 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year. Four of his novels have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
Melvin Burgess is regarded as one of the best writers in contemporary children's literature. In 1997, his controversial bestseller Junk won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal. It was also shortlisted for the 1998 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year. Four of his novels have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Melvin lives in Hebden Bridge with his partner.
Never one to shirk from tackling complex topics head on, Melvin Burgess’s Three Bullets imagines future England as a horrific entity in which the controlling body, The Bloods, will stop at nothing to attain their vision of Britain as a country of white Christians. Mixed-raced and trans, Martina (Marti) fits the The Bloods’ definition of “abnormals”. In her own words, “You won’t like me, not many people do”, and she’s certainly a complex, contradictory character throughout the novel. When her house is bombed, killing her mum, Marti and her little brother Rowan go on the run with Maude, who was taken into their fold after her own family were killed. Maude is the kind of person who “stuck to her word, for you or against you, which I liked. She had principles, which I kind of admired because I don’t have any myself,” Marti acknowledges. In addition, Maude can “shoot a gun, she knows first aid, she can drive. She’s pretty. She’s white. She has contacts and perfect tits”. The fear, violence and tension of living in a society at war, a country in which the ERAC (Evangelical Realignment Centre) exists to fix “idolaters and heretics and believers in equal rights” is evoked in all its horrific brutality. And amidst this, Marti is set on saving the father she assumed was dead, set on finding the software he created that might hold the key to transforming their world. Marti’s voice is unique and her will to survive like nothing The Bloods could have possibly imagined, as felt by readers as her story rips and races at breakneck speed.
Bold and brutally, brilliantly honest, Melvin Burgess’s multi-award-winning (and multi-layered) Junk presents the definitively frank account of why young people might head down a drug-taking path - and remain there. A love triangle, of sorts, between its two main characters and their addiction to heroin, once read Junk is never forgotten. It strikes deep with unflinching power, never shirking from truths that need to be told, which it does from multiple compelling viewpoints, and with incredible empathy. Smart and thoughtful Tar has been blighted by abuse at the hands of his parents. In contrast, middle class Gemma has attentive parents, which has driven them to strictness, and drives her to leave home. Both on the streets of Bristol, Tar and Gemma fall in together, and fall in love, though it’s not long before they tumble into a spiral of drug-related devastation. In a novel packed with agonising episodes, perhaps most poignant of all is witnessing Tar and Lily convince themselves they’re in control of their heroin addiction, but since it’s exactly that - an addiction - they are not, and their story will cut to your soul.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | On the surface, this is a story about a girl who discovers she's a witch, in a world where that is a highly dangerous thing to be. But it's contemporary life that really fascinates Melvin Burgess and this is as much a story of growing up and independence as it is a story of dark magic. It also contains a thoroughly disturbing dissection of coercion and control as central character Bea is manipulated into doing things that cause irrevocable harm to herself and others. The book opens with Bea and her family returning home after a day out. Crossing the moors they run into The Hunt, violent supernatural creatures tracking and attacking other witches. Bea is able to stop them, powerfully summoning help but revealing her supernatural ability at the same time. With the awakening of her witch nature, the world becomes a different place, more beautiful but more frightening as she is surrounded by visions that only she can see. Befriended by other witches she is given a terrible choice: safety and freedom with them means she must leave her own human family for ever. Under pressure from her parents she decides to give up her new powers for a 'normal' life, but is snatched away at the last minute by the wild boy she is beginning to love - is it a rescue, or an abduction? It's typical of Burgess that the book raises so many questions about temptation and individual choice, freedom and responsibility; typical too that the consequences of Bea's decisions are shown to be so painful, and permanent. Powerful, uncompromising reading.
Special 11th Anniversary Edition As ever, Melvin Burgess makes readers think. Sara signs up for a face transplant but is it her who wants it or, is she being pushed into doing it against her will by the scarred pop-star who wants her face? Glamour and fame are not always what they seem. ~ Julia Eccleshare Lovereading Comment: This is young adult fiction at its challenging and thrilling best - and Melvin Burgess has yet again struck a chord with a teenager’s world. The issue of cosmetic surgery is brought sharply into focus and in such a way that the reader will feel more informed and as a result the ever present peer pressures which are a part of teenage life more keenly borne.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 7 In just 54 short pages Melvyn Burgess creates a drama that encompasses a whole life. Trapped in a coma, Marianne doesn’t know who she is anymore, and no longer feels like a person at all. She’s aware of the woman who comes to visit every day, and likes the feel of the woman’s warm breath on her face. That physical contact stirs memories of another occasion when she was lost, and then found, and those memories help her begin to recognise who she was, and is. Burgess uses the situation to ponder the importance of memories and identity in a haunting and powerful drama that doesn’t waste a single word. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
Winner of the 1996 CILIP Carnegie Medal When it was published in 1996 it created a Storm of Protest - especially from those who didn't bother to read it. The book, however, is credible, honest, realistic, moving and sympathetic - not to drug taking, but to some of the reasons for it and how the young fall into it and then, with luck and a bit of help, get themselves out of it. Junk not for the faint-hearted for it is utterly compelling and terrifying by turns – from bliss through to complete despair we see all manner of emotions that at times will make you feel utterly drained. It’s a real roller-coaster and yet it is completely honest and real to today’s world. Controversy has always gone where this book has gone for it’s hard-hitting approach to the subjects of drink, of drugs and of sex. Junk is an absolute must-read for any teenager and an essential eye-opener to any parent of a teenager. Winner of the Carnegie Medal 1996 and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize A Note from the Author, Melvin Burgess This book is set roughly in the early and middle 1980s, when I myself was living in Bristol. All the major events have happened, are happening and will no doubt continue to happen. I saw many of them myself and heard about many more. As for the people here . . . some are pure invention, some are seeded from real people and then fictionalised, some are fictitious with bits of real people stirred in. The only proper portrait is Richard, one of the nicest and strangest people I’ve ever met, who is beyond praise or prosecution, bless him. He died on the motorway some years ago. The book isn’t fact; it isn’t even faction. But it’s all true, every word.
Not suitable for younger readers A sequel to Bloodtide, Bloodsong revisits the two families and their London setting. War has now wholly destroyed the city. Of the Volson’s, only fifteen year old Sigurd remains. Defenceless without the knife given to his father by the gods and passed down to him, he must find a new weapon to fight with so that he can re-forge his country and unite it. Like the heroes from the sagas Sigurd is willing to risk everything to fulfil his destiny and succeed in his quest. Melvin Burgess creates an epic drama in a devastated world. Melvin Burgess is justly regarded as the Godfather of Young Adult fiction in the UK. He doesn’t disappoint with this work of mind-bending imagination and power, in which myth, magic and science fiction are mixed with the basest and best of human – and inhuman – emotions. A must-read for all fantasy fans.
Not suitable for younger readers Award-winning Melvin Burgess packs an enormous punch in this gripping, brilliant and scarily dark futuristic saga. He shies away from nothing in his story of the Volsons and the Connors, two powerful families whose gangs control London, fighting to the death for their rights to rule. When a marriage between Val Volson’s daughter Signy and the Conor is arranged as a way of creating a truce there is a brief moment of hope. But treachery and trickery of the cruellest kind soon destroy any possibility of a lasting peace. From the moment that Signy is so cruelly crippled she plots her revenge and nothing will hold her back from taking it. Drawing on the Icelandic sagas and emulating their darkness, Burgess creates a story that is rich in its understanding of the deepest emotional powers that draw people together and those that drive them apart.
April 2013 Book of the Month Award-winning Melvin Burgess sets out a thrilling proposal: what if there were a drug which gave you the chance to have the very best time of your life for one week after which is was known that you would die. Would you take it? Adam’s life is rubbish – especially after his brother disappears. His family has no money, he has no job, society is shot to pieces. Why not end it all and have the ultimate high before he goes? As always, Burgess raises questions that matter a lot to teenagers giving much to think about, all wrapped up in a highly charged, action packed thriller. A Piece of Passion from the Publisher, Barry Cunningham I can’t help making this personal. What would be on my list if I had a week to live? Er … it’s almost easy.But then I think of the people I’d never see again, the things I’d never do. (Anyway, no one can eat that many lobsters.) Melvin Burgess brilliantly brings home theconsequences of a momentous choice – to a world that feels like the day after tomorrow, where love, sex, crime and revolution all swing into play. It’s intimate, thrilling and intense. Like life itself. .......................................... In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Hit a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'A race against time, a lost cause, a crazy, extremist-ridden world and a strong brotherly love combine to make this one of the best books I've read. I strongly recommend it for any teen looking for a book with a subtle, cleverly wrought twist'.... Scroll down to read more reviews...
Tam is unhappy at home and often takes refuge in the ruins of Thowt It Farm. But then one day he is transported back to the Second World War. Alone and afraid, he makes friends with May, who has been rescued from a bombed-out house. She tries to persuade him to stay at the farm, but Tam is afraid of being trapped in the past forever.
Award-winning Melvin Burgess is at his most tender in this thought provoking and deeply moving story. Sham and Fly Pie make their living on the rubbish tip. Scavenging for Mother Shelly they pick up this and that and Fly Pie dreams always of escape – escape to the country and a proper way of life. But, then the rubbish tip throws up something different. A baby. A baby worth seventeen million pounds. What choices should Fly Pie make now? 'We're the rubbish kids, losers and orphans. Every day we go out on to the Tip to sort rubbish for Mother Shelly'. For Sham, Fly Pie and his sister Jane, this is the grim reality of their lives.
Carnegie-prize winning Melvin Burgess brings the past to life in this atmospheric story of witchcraft in seventeenth-century England. Haunted by terrible dreams Issy has to find out about her past and about her true nature. Brought up infused with the suspicions of the time about the crones called witches and the dubious magic they wrought, Issy has to step deep into their world to find out more – and to discover her own true nature and powers. Burgess paints a vivid picture of one girl's courage and honesty in a world steeped in superstition and prejudice.