By Joe Ducie, published by Hot Key Books.
Goodreads synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake…
After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it?
My Review: THE RIG was an absolutely brilliant story from start to finish- and most definitely deserved to win the Guardian/Hot Key young Writers Prize! The whole idea was both chilling and gripping, and I was given an utterly original tale that I don’t think I’ll be forgetting.
The setting was so vivid, and seemed terrifyingly real: an old Oil Rig, secluded from the public eye, that now houses juvenile offenders and is run by the pretty brutal Alliance. Think of the relentless police force that control Britain in ACID by Emma Pass: but their power on a global scale! It made the whole book pretty scary! The remote oil rig was also probably the most genius backdrop for an escape/mystery novel. It made the final escape plan devised by Drake and his new accomplices very unpredictable.
The plot was just, in one word, immaculate. It’s got to be one of the most thrilling that I’ve read this year! It was full of unexpected events and twists, and I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Things were complicated very quickly, thanks to Drake’s cockiness towards the Guards and, most especially, minor antagonist Grey and his thuggish gang; also prisoners of the Rig, and they hold grudges. The story was paced really well as Drake searched for a way out, got into scraps with Grey, and made relationships with characters whose parts in the book shook up the story (especially Irene, and Drakes psychiatrist!).
I really couldn’t ask for a better character to lead this story! Drake was a brilliant protagonist- he was extremely bright, always on an adventure, trying to escape from high security prisons (To Joe Ducie- Was the front door of one REALLY unlocked?) , and was cocky and funny, brightening up an otherwise quite dismal situation. He’s quite a relatable character, as parts of his past (like his family background) were really well explained- though a lot of it was shrouded in a cloud of mystery, which was interesting. I felt really sympathetic for him throughout the book, as he was scared to make friends in case he lost them like previous people in his life. It was really great to see him slowly grow closer to two certain prisoners.
As for the writing? Gripping! It was rich with imagery, and I could imagine the setting and characters so well through Joe Ducie’s writing. I mentioned before that Drake was really relatable- and I’ve only ever found that I’ve been able to connect with characters in first person books. However, this book’s in third person, but I really felt like I was Drake. The author definitely has writing talent, and he left some cliffhangers that made this book unputdownable. And the cliffhanger at the end. *refrains from putting on Caps Lock* I need a sequel, now!!
Overall, The RIG is an unmissable read for Young Teens and up. It’s entirely original, and I’ve never read an action/mystery novel like it before. There’s no wonder it won the Young Writers Prize! The characters were realistic and I either fell in love with their personalities or learned to hate their guts (*cough* Grey *Cough* The whole Alliance *cough*). Also with a brilliant, thrilling setting and well written chapters, what’s not to love?
I received a copy of THE RIG from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.