Summary (from Goodreads):
“In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why …This is a book about what how we label children. It’s about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It’s about how politicians manipulate them. Gripping and controversial reading for fans of Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness.”
I absolutely love the concept behind this story. Obviously if you’ve paid attention at all over the past several years, you know that there are a lot of people on Ritalin or Adderall, and so many people with ADD or ADHD.
The new drug Concentr8 is a similar drug and it seems like every teenager is on it. It works really well—until all of a sudden, it’s taken away. And then the trouble starts. There are lootings and riots; a group of teens even kidnaps someone who works in the mayor’s office.
And it’s probably not a spoiler to point out that there’s more to Concentr8 than is initially apparent.
I think how this story works best is as an example of how powerless some people are. I love the idea that some of these people are on Concentr8 because they have behavior issues and it’s easier to drug people into compliance than it is to…well, teach them.
This is a fascinating concept and it’s told really well. I also love the fact that it works amazingly well on that level—as a sociological construct into who has power and who doesn’t, into who is allowed to behave however they want and who isn’t, and how money ties into that because of course it does—but it also works really well as a really fun story. You can think about it as much or as little as you want, and you will enjoy the story a great deal either way.
William Sutcliffe is the author of the young adult novel The Wall, which was published in 2013 to much critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and long-listed for the 2013 Guardian Fiction Prize. He also wrote five adult novels, including the international bestseller, Are You Experienced, and a middle-grade novel, Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. William currently lives in Edinburgh.