Review – Clash by Colin Mulhern

Today we hear from Bookbabbler Aly, and offer one lucky Bookbabbler the chance to win a copy of the book…

Clash – Colin Mulhern

Alex: school psycho and under-ground cage-fighting champion. Kyle: talented artist, smart school-boy and funny man. When Alex witnesses a brutal murder at the club he can’t go back to The Cage, but without fighting, he starts to lose control. He soon sets his sights on Kyle, a boy he thinks can help. But Kyle has his own problems and he’s convinced Alex is one of them. Boys can play dangerous games when they’re scared and this one will haunt everyone involved. What will it take for each boy to confront the truth?

Clash took me roughly three hours to read which isn’t bad at all. I have to say that there was never a dull moment and it never lagged. I love when this happens because it makes the whole reading experience all the more smoother.  I had heard briefly of the book prior to reading it, but after reading the synopsis I was interested right away.

When I started the book I was a little unsure. The boys were practically children yet the synopsis promised something on the heavy side. How much could a child really face, how many children are cut out to be cage fighters out there? Well it would seem the author completely proved me wrong.

Gareth and Kyle are in the school toilets the first time they meet Alex Crow. Both boys are described on the geeky side, wimpish and quite timid. If you saw Alex Crow you would think the same. Which is why he is the prime example of why you should not judge a book by it’s cover.
Soon word spreads around school fast, Alex Crow is trouble, and he is not your average bully, there is no facade. He is the real deal. If you brush him the wrong way he will either beat you to a pulp on the spot or keep you waiting in anticipation of being beaten to a pulp. When first coming across the character of Alex the question that you are bound to ask is, how does a mere child become so cold-hearted, so insensitive and numb to feeling? There is however a lot more to his story. If you are willing to listen that is.

With a pushover of a mother, and an abuser of a father things have always been grim for him. Which is why it’s important to know that Alex was not born into being a bully, he was made into one. Forget his parents, his whole family is messed up.

The one person who he tends to look up to in times of need is his Uncle Joe who is just as bad as the rest. He is the one who introduced him into cage fighting. Forced him into it even. The decision was made the day his uncle and father watched as his own cousin continued to throw punches at him mercilessly. There was no concern on his father’s face, no anger at his son being hurt. Instead he was slapped with the decision that he had showed his worth, he showed potential. That was the beginning of it all.

Kyle on the other hand comes from a loving mother who seems to have boyfriends walking into her home as fast as they are walking back out. This obviously has a big impact on Kyle, he is someone who obviously wants the love of a father, he wants that bond, that guy talk that he can only have with a father figure. It’s clear that it’s something he craves.

Besides this he has quite the wonderful talent; he is an extremely talented artist, something that Alex is fully aware of because he is one himself. There is no arrogance when it comes to talent on Alex’s part, Kyle’s a talented guy, but instead of being jealous Alex respects him for it. Kyle is someone who Alex admires in a way, someone who he wouldn’t mind getting to know. Little do the both of them know that many things in the near future may just prevent that.

CLASH is no horror book, but it had a similar affect. Alex gave me goosebumps at times. I was actually horrified by him and his actions, mostly when I was seeing him through Kyle’s eyes – then it just made things even worse. I hated that Kyle and Gareth feared him, and I hated how Alex hated his father when he was a walking contradiction of him. If he is this ruthless and violent at such a young age, he might far surpass his dad’s action by the age of twenty. Does he seriously not realise that?

Despite this I felt for him. We are moulded by those we look up to. In his case it was his Uncle Joe and father. When he found out what they were really like it was too late anyway. The anger was there, the passion for fighting also. He had been taught to fight, to have no mercy in the ring, to be ruthless and KO a person, but never to have some self-restraint, to hold back and walk away from situations. You are taught the bad and the good growing up it’s almost as though he was taught just the bad.

What CLASH has taught me and those that will read this book is that we too often judge people based on face value. On what others say and the “label” attached to them. Getting to know the person beneath that stereotype is what should be focused on. Everyone can point the finger and laugh alongside a big crowd, but it takes that one great person to stand up and walk away from that crowd and give the person a chance. What Kyle and Alex share is all about breaking those barriers and trying to find some common ground.

There is a lot more to the story that I am keeping on the vague side, things that link to events that ultimately decide all three boys fate. This is no soppy story; it’s gritty, harsh and a little uncomfortable. But it’s a breath of fresh air.  The ending left me anxious and even a little creeped out. In fact, the last page, I mean the last sentence on the last page just shook me. It could mean so many things, and it made me question too much.

As I lay in bed I was so unsettled by it all that I seriously did not want to leave the room. There was no way that I had imagined that the book would have such an impact on me, of this kind specifically anyway. I have not fully recovered from that sentence on the last page, it just completely creeped me out.  Staying snuggled up under my duvet sounds much more inviting actually. I would recommend this to all YA fans who are looking for something exciting and little different than your typical paranormal or romance read.

Thanks, Aly – powerful reading. As promised, one Bookbabbler can now win a copy of Clash. To be entered into the draw, comment on this post, ‘like’ it on Facebook, or retweet it. We’ll pick a winner Sunday evening at 7pm (UK only).