The Boy Who Hit Play
By Chloe Daykin
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN 978 0 571 32678 5
Elvis Crampton Lucas is proud of his unusual name, but he wishes he knew more about his family background. He knows he isn’t really a “Lucas”, and there is the problem.
His adoptive dad found him, 12 years ago as a baby, left on a bench at the zoo, wrapped in a Norwegian newspaper. Not many young boys get a start in life as unusual as that, and most of the time this doesn’t worry happy-go-lucky Elvis in the slightest.
Dad has always looked after him well, and their family is completed by Lloyd, Dad’s eccentric friend. But as the 12th anniversary of the day when he was found approaches, Elvis finds himself wanting to know the truth about who left him on that bench. The only clue he has is the newspaper. And that isn’t really much use.
Elvis, Dad, and Lloyd set off for Norway on a mission that really looks doomed from the start. They have nothing to go on. But at least Elvis will be able to say that he did try to find his birth parents.
Disaster strikes when the trio visits the newspaper offices in Oslo to ask questions and gather a few clues. Someone steals their passports. And as if that isn’t bad enough, Dad drops a big bombshell.
For 12 years he has kept secret a note that was found on that bench with baby Elvis. And on the note is an address that surely will lead the trio to Elvis’ real parents. But why has Dad kept this a secret for so long? Elvis is shocked that this information has been hidden when it could have provided answers years ago.
The mystery deepens when the trio realises that they are being pursued by shadowy figures. Are Dad and Lloyd telling Elvis all they know about his origins? Does the truth lie here in Norway or back in Britain?
The Boy Who Hit Play is an adventure, a road-trip, a mystery, and a travelogue all rolled into one. The author obviously did a trip to Norway before she wrote the book, and the detailed setting of the story in this remote, freezing land adds much to the central mystery.
Chloe Daykin showed in her first YA novel, Fish Boy, that she was an imaginative and original writer. She tells Elvis’s story in short, sharp sentences, that make everything immediate and easy to follow. There are no long-winded descriptions here to slow down the story.
Daykin’s writing style pulls us right into Elvis’ world and what he is thinking, feeling and doing. He is the narrator of his own story, and he is totally believable as a 12-year-old and as a boy on a cliffhanger mission.
This funny, thrilling, and quirky tale is a captivating read. Readers will certainly enjoy meeting Elvis and his oddball companions and travelling into the wilds of Norway with them to find out who Elvis Crampton Lucas really is.
John Millen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org