WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT THE SWIDGER BOOK SERIES
Many of the following comments come from young people themselves. Readers aged ten to fifteen, by arrangements with school book clubs and reading groups in Manchester, London and Luton, were given SWIDGERS prior to publication without knowledge of the author's age, background or gender, and asked to write a short report.
Other comments come from industry professionals such as novelists, journalists, broadcasters, comedians, screenwriters and YA fiction writers.
One thing everyone agreed on was the laugh-out-loud humour. "What struck me most about reading SWIDGERS was just how funny it was. I didn't expect to laugh quite so much when reading a story about a lonely boy with special powers," wrote a Year 10 reviewer, and "I found this book to be interesting and funny," said another. Much of the comedy in the book comes from Granny. "My favourite character was Grandma because I thought she was funny," was typical of how many teenage readers reacted to the feisty and bizarre Granny.
And teachers fell in love with her too. "The character of Granny is wonderful," one observed, "a genuine source of comedy that is all too commonly lacking in young adult fiction. Her tales and one-liners are laugh-out-loud funny." And this teacher wasn't alone – "The character of Granny is truly inspired… I found myself unable to contain my laughter and trying to get the kids to bed early so I could get on with the next chapter!" said a book club organiser in a school in north London.
"A real page turner"
The pace and plotting has proved popular as well. "I thought the storyline of the book was compelling and made the book hard to put down at times," wrote one young reviewer. "I really enjoyed the book… The story moved really fast and made me want to read on," echoed another. One young student especially liked the "imaginative twists" in the plot and even gave the book the ultimate accolade by calling it "a real page turner" and another praised its cinematic quality, "When I was reading the book I was there because I could picture the events so clear. It was like I was watching a movie."
And as ever the teachers and book club organisers were as equally impressed. "The author is teasing us with foreshadowing of events to come… the final chapter left me wanting more; thank goodness a series is planned," said the book club organiser in Luton. Another immediately saw the future possibilities of SWIDGERS: "There is a definite sense that this is the first book in a series of stories featuring Swidgers and that we have only lightly scratched the surface of the depth of potential in this world."
"Creative and different"
Many reviewers where impressed by the originality of the book. One young reader wrote, "I really enjoyed the book and I thought the main character was unusual and interesting. I really wanted to find out why he had the strange powers and discover his history."
Another said "I really like the concept. I thought that it was an original idea" and one reviewer found in the tale their own powerful meaning: "I loved reading the story. It was creative and different from any other books I've read… I also found it very inspiring because I felt the message behind the story was to do with trust and friendship." "The author", wrote the book club organiser from north London, "trusts his readers to decipher the mystery at the heart of the novel, with clever foreshadowing but not too obvious signposting, meaning the suspense is maintained for the adult reader as much as the teenager."
"Draws you in immediately"
Many enjoyed the action packed opening sequence which, wrote one Year 9 reviewer, gets you "hyped up for the rest of the story and it does not fail to keep your attention". And on this theme another Year 9 wrote said, "I liked the suspense at the beginning that makes you want to read on".
And the crucial first chapter was highly praised by teachers too. "SWIDGERS draws you in immediately with a breathless opening sequence in which the young hero is faced with a life or death situation that we discover is a regular occurrence in his role as a Swidger." "I was hooked immediately," wrote the Luton book club organiser. "You could tell there was something unusual about the protagonist and there was an impending sense of doom and disaster; things not going to plan, chance and fate coming into play but everything happening for a reason."
"Fantasy, Sci-fi, Adventure and Comedy – you never know what to expect next"
There's much in the book that readers found entertaining and engaging. "One of the things that makes the book so original is the mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, adventure and comedy, so you never know what to expect next." The writing style was a hit with young teenagers too. "I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book due to the amazing storyline. Character, humour and general style of writing… I loved how all the mysteries and loose ends came together… which showed clever precise and planned writing."
And again teachers and book club organisers admired the excellent quality of the writing. "There's a real sense of joy of language here and while they may not understand every single word, young readers will appreciate the sophistication of much of the language, enjoying being treated as a bit more 'grown up' than when reading the latest ALEX RIDER or CHERUB series." "There is some very sophisticated vocabulary and literary, biblical and mythological references," said another, "elements of the book reminded me of MARY POPPINS, THE MAZE RUNNER, HARRY POTTER, DIVERGENT, TWILIGHT and LORD OF THE RINGS – praise indeed!"
"I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to my friends"
All reviewers were keen to read more - "I loved the brilliant cliff-hanger at the end and can't wait to see what's next for William and Granny", "I'd definitely be interested in more books by the author," "I look forward to reading the next in the SWIDGERS, I really enjoyed the book and would definitely read the rest in the series" and "It was a really good read and I would definitely buy the book." And many were happy too to recommend it to others – "I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to my friends" and "I'd recommend it to my friends as I think they'd like the mystery and adventure but also find it funny" were typical comments.
And from the teachers and book club organisers:
"I found SWIDGERS to be an exciting page-turner, laced with comedy that will thrill and entertain young audiences."
"A gripping adventure… Highly recommended!"
"An absolute pleasure to read."
(Due to confidentiality, these reviews cannot be shown here in full. However, for professionals working in the publishing industry, a PDF of unedited reports can be made available as long as strict confidentially is maintained and observed.)
Praise for SWIDGERS from Writers and Novelists
"Grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go. Steve is a master mimic and uses all his skills to create a powerful and dramatic tale of mystery!"Rory Bremner, BAFTA winning writer and performer
"A rambunctious riot of a book with a totally unpredictable plot – I never knew where I was going to be taken next! Granny is a joy of a character; delightfully irreverent with wicked one-liners."Joseph Elliott, YA author of THE GOOD HAWK, THE BROKEN RAVEN and THE BURNING SWIFT
"This brilliant story whizzes along and follows William's transformation from nervy kid at the back of the class to fully fledged adventure hero. We see this wonderful adventure through William's eyes and share the adrenalin rush from his perspective. This is a great story for YA readers and grown-ups who, like William, find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of life. I loved it!"Sonia Beldom, author of the popular children's book series GRANNY FRANNY'S BIG RED BUS.
"I loved it. As a former teacher, the parent teacher meetings struck a particular chord."Geoff Northcott, comedian, writer and broadcaster
"Steve Nallon is an experienced and formidable talent and this departure into YA fantasy may win him a whole new generation of fans."Jenny Lecoat, screenwriter, novelist and author of HEDY'S GIRL and the movie ANOTHER MOTHER'S SON
"Steve Nallon has always been very good at everything he's done but this first novel could be his finest hour! From the very start, it is intriguing, innovative, snappy and witty. Nallon writes with a compelling sense of rhythm and just makes you want to keep reading and going further into his magical world. It really does gallop along. Granny is a great creation and a magnificent character in every sense: engaging, shocking, loveable, embarrassing, bright and very, very funny! It's all very impressive!"Alistair McGowan, BAFTA winning writer and performer
"THE TIME THAT NEVER WAS is the marvellous story of a boy growing up with a very special power. He is a Swidger and Swidgers can see into people's timelines and perhaps alter them. But who, or what, is watching them? Exciting, often very funny and always gripping, this is a book about adventures in time – Past, Present and Future. And in the future? Well, the good news is that there is already a sequel on the way."William Palmer, novelist and author of THE CONTRACT, THE INDIA HOUSE, FOUR LAST THINGS, THE GOOD REPUBLIC, THE ISLAND RESCUE.
"Beguiling, inventive and magical: Nallon has conjured up a perfect world and a perfect read. A dazzling piece of fiction."Jonathan Maitland, author of the play DEAD SHEEP and presenter of ITV's current affairs series TONIGHT