You Review: Dani thinks ‘Kook’ by Chris Vick is “a wild, dangerous ride”

MP!er and blogger Dani received a copy of ‘Kook’ by Chris Vick from us through our You Review. ‘Kook’ is the story of Sam, a novice surfer new to Cornwall, and Jade, a thrill-seeker chasing the next big wave – and here’s what Dani had to say about it:

KOOK is a coming of age story like no other. Sam, brainy and pale, moves to Cornwall with his mother and half-sister from London, where he meets the beautiful force that is Jade. Jade introduces him to the ocean and her surfer friends, and the trouble starts from day one. Sam is drawn to the same waters that claimed his father ten years before, and they might just get him, too.

This book had me so fuming mad that I couldn’t read it in one sitting. (I did read it in less than two days, though.) It was frustrating to watch these teenagers do things I just knew would go south. I had to take breaks because of their recklessness. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish the book, but like a wave, it pushed me away just before it dragged me back in. I wanted to walk away, but it was like being in a car with a bunch of teenagers, watching as they drove towards a red light, screaming at the driver to pay attention, knowing that you were all about to hit a truck… Disaster was inevitable.

But here’s the thing, and it took me until about 75% of the book to figure it out. In real life, you don’t like everyone you meet. You don’t understand everything people do. You don’t agree with their actions. Vick didn’t set out to write a book about characters you love or root for; I imagine he wanted to write real people into existence, and he did. I didn’t like Jade a lot of the time, but there were parts of her that I loved and respected. Rag did things that I hated, but he wasn’t a bad person. Even G had redeeming qualities. Sometimes I liked the characters, sometimes I wanted them to stop being idiots (actually, most of the time), but I couldn’t help but root for them. There was a part of me that wanted to be there, with them in their moments of excitement, even when the rational part of me was shaking her head at their stupidity.

Only once I’d reached the end, tissues strewn all around, did I fully appreciate what Vicks had done. There was no other way for the book to end and be as incredibly real as it was. He’d written a masterpiece of a love story – with a girl and with the ocean, neither of which could be tamed. He’d put me inside the mind of a skinny, nerdy, teenage boy as he went through a rite of passage into a hardened, scary adulthood, where things don’t always work out and parents are humans who don’t know what to do.

If you liked ‘Skins’ (and I mean, the good, old British ‘Skins’), then you’ll enjoy ‘Kook’. You don’t even need to know much about surfing – enough is explained in the book to keep you floating along…and maybe even want to try it yourself. (But know that there is only one teacher.)

Honestly, be prepared to slam the book on the table and walk away. And maybe also keep some tissues handy, because this is a wild, dangerous ride, and there’s no way you’ll come out of it unscathed.

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Written by Laura Fulton

Book Channel Editor at MaxPop! Have a thing for the sea and pretty paperbacks. Saved by amazing grace.

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