________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 3 . . . . September 16, 2011


Gone Bad. (SideStreets). [Previously published under title Good Idea Gone Bad.]

Lesley Choyce.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
149 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-55277-709-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-710-7 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55277-711-1 (ebook).

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

*** /4



In their minds I had crossed the line, turned my back on them. I was a traitor. There was a rift between us and it was getting wider. What was it we had believed in, anyway? We believed in having fun. We believed in cleaning the junk of the streets – the human trash. We believed in making up our own rules.

No. We believed in nothing.

But I hadn’t really changed. Not much. I still didn’t believe in anything other than what was good for me. The only difference was that I had decided that the music was good for me. Kelsey and the music. I wasn’t about to turn my back on those two things to get back in with these guys.”

Cody and his friends are the very worst of bullies. The four teenage boys roam the streets of Halifax after dark, beating up anyone who looks different, anyone they deem to be a loser, or simply anyone they feel like beating up. Unlike his friends, Cody has other interests. He loves music and is an enthusiastic drummer. Soon Cody finds himself in a band with two other teens from his school. At first, he is torn. To his mind, he has abandoned his friends to hang out with kids he would once have deemed to be complete losers, but, after a rocky start, he and his two band mates begin to create music that makes them the talk of the high school and soon the city. Cody gradually changes, becoming a better person and a much more likable character. He eventually distances himself from his old friends and even reconciles with one of their former victims. During this transition, the band finds local success making edgy and controversial music, even though their controversial lyrics make it difficult for them to find commercial viability.

      In Gone Bad, the reader follows Cody’s transition from an angry thug who solves problems with violence, to a young man who thinks before he acts and realizes that violence will not get him what he wants. While many of the characters seem like stock caricatures, Cody’s character is well-developed, and the way he changes and matures over the course of the novel is believable. Gone Bad has a very strong anti-violence message, but the engaging plot and Cody’s characterization keep the novel from seeming didactic.

      Gone Bad is an excellent book for teen readers. Its being written from Cody’s point of view makes it engaging and provides the reader with insight into Cody’s motives and the way his perspective changes through the novel. The novel is fast paced and full of action and tense moments. It is written in simple language that makes it ideal for students who read below grade level or are learning English as a second language.

Gone Bad is a recommended purchase for public and school libraries.


Mark Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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