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Being a dreadful artist, Heads, Bodies and Legs never used to work for me, but I did really love the game of Consequences. You know the one - a boy's name, a girl's name, where they met, what he said and what she said, and then what the consequence was. But, I've never seen the game used as the background for a book before reading this one, and yet it works so effectively you wonder why no one thought of it before.
Emma is an art student who had hopes of staying on in her 6th form, until her head teacher makes it clear that girls who go off and have babies when they are 16 are then no longer welcome at Catholic schools. James is a public school boy who has missed the 5 A-C grades he needs to stay on in his 6th form, following a bet which won him money but lost him good grades and his family's respect. Grace, at the other end of the spectrum, is thrilled she scraped the grades she needed for her childcare course, while Leon is furious that he didn't get sent down for his part in a serious arson attack. Ending up at the same college, it's still unlikely this lot would have become friends if it weren't for a random incident on the day of enrolement. But they do, and the consequences of this happening are huge.
The book starts with Emma, the day before her Art exam, putting the final touches to her "Consequences" piece. She's taken the premise of the game and remembered the consequences of their GCSE results and their subsequent year together at college. She thinks back to the first time they met, and everything that has happened since then, telling the story in her art in line with the game headings.
I thought this book was really fun and showed that many stories can simply be broken down into a game of consequences - a boy, a girl, where they met and what happened next. Even when you consider the diverse characters who are playing the game, in this case the consequences would have been impossible to predict - a newly released young offender looking for payback, a sister who could out-do any evil stepmother, an accident that could prove fatal, a love triangle, a hidden illness. It's the stuff great soap operas are made of, but without all the insanely beautiful people.
I would praise this book for the unique style, the fantastic characters and a story that leaps of the page and keeps you reading all night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend it.
If you're off to the bookshop or library to seek it out (and you should!) I'd ask for it by the title, not the hard to remember author's surname. Or get it from Amazon, new for under £4 - a true deal for a book this readable, even if, in true teen novel style, it's a little on the short side.