“Perfectly pitched comedy for younger teens”
Never Evers is the story of Mouse, a 14-year-old girl, who has returned to her former school after failing to make the grade at ballet school, and Jack, also fourteen, and the diffident front-man of a band with no name. They’re off on a school trip to France – Mouse to learn to ski and Jack to snowboard. For the first several chapters, the two characters’ stories are entirely separate. We learn how Mouse feels about her failure and her discomfort about fitting herself back in with the friends she left behind. We see Jack going along with his friend Max in his quest for girls and fireworks – like a junior version of The Inbetweeners. Eventually, the two stories collide, the two fancy each other – of course – and circumstances keep them apart – of course. There is bullying, a lookalike French popstar, a hamster and an avalanche. And it’s funny! Not so much at the start of Mouse’s part, which is very much concerned with her turmoil about her situation, but for the boys and once the two characters are interacting, we’re talking pure situation comedy – the hamster in the wardrobe is genius!
Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen make a fabulous team. Of course men can write female and women can write male, but writing from the perspective of your own sex has got to come more naturally. Here the contrast of tone of the two voices is so effective, and not just the tone, but what they focus on too. Although Lucy’s Mouse and Tom’s Jack are both low-key characters, followers rather than leaders, Mouse is angsty and thinks a lot about what she is doing or thinking or how she presents herself, while Jack thinks about himself much less and reacts to other people more. I’m fascinated by the concept of writing as a team as Tom and Lucy do. It seems to me that particularly for comedy it must help to have a partner to provide an immediate audience, to try to surprise and to react to. Most writers spend a good part of their time going, ‘Does this work?’ To have someone right there who you trust enough to share the writing of your book and who’s prepared to say, ‘Nope. Try again,’ or “Of course it does,’ must be such a motivation.
Never Evers is for a younger audience than Lucy and Tom’s last book Lobsters. Even if you don’t take into account the age of the characters – fourteen here and eighteen in Lobsters – there’s the fact that here the boys are on a quest to get kissed whereas the aim in Lobsters was to have sex. The book is gentler, the perils less perilous. I think Never Evers perfectly pitched for the younger teen audience, the Cathy Cassidy and Geek Girl fans, and if the authors decide to keep on writing for this target audience I could see them becoming big names in this section of the market. I very much hope they’ll continue write for older teens too – Lobsters was one of the funniest books I read in 2014.
More to Read!
Take a look at my review of Lobsters. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud read, you can’t do much better than this!
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