Author: Tim Lott
Walker Books
RRP: 6.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 4063 0862 4
ISBN-10: 1 4063 0862 5
Available 04 June 2007

One night it all changed. One night the men came for her mother and then they came for her. In a land controlled by rules, bosses and corporations Little Fearless finds herself locked up in the City Community Faith School whose pleasant exterior belies the misery of the children's existence. Unable to accept that the outside world would allow children to live in such poverty, Little Fearless escapes to bring the institution to its knees. Problem is that no one on the outside believes her...

Fearless is the latest novel by Tim Lott whose first novel, White City Blue (1999), won the Whitbread First Novel Prize. He has subsequently gone on to write Rumours of a Hurricane (2002), The Love Secrets of Don Juan (2003) and The Seymour Tapes (2005).

Fearless is an odd novel to categorise, it's not really a children's story, even though nearly all the protagonists are young women. Lott describes the book as an attempt to write a tragedy for children, though by the books presentation the publishers are marketing the book at an adult audience.

Lott has a particularly dystopian view of the world that he has created. Within the school, which is more akin to a work camp, the girls slave away their days in the laundry. Segregated into a three tier hierarchical system the girls are graded as either X, Y or Z workers. The X girls are the heavies of the school, keeping the Controllers order, even though they themselves are still captives. The Y girls hold the middle ground, whilst the Z's are the lowest of the low.

Outside the city fairs no better, with continued acts of terrorism allowing the bosses to restrict freedoms, detain people and to make them disappear, if necessary. Their justification is the existence of the terrorist Oroborous, whose reputation has grown to the proportions of being the bogey man for most of the population.

Although Little fearless is able to escape three times neither of the two authority figures that she approaches, a policeman and a priest believe her. It is only when she approaches a member of the working classes do things start to change. However, Little Fearless should have heeded the warning about being careful what you wish for, as her much sort after dissolution of the institution comes at a high price when she discovers a secret even she didn't know.

Overall, the book succeeded in its intent as Little Fearless discovers that sometimes the price of winning is having to loose something. It is well written and should appeal to its target audience. That is not to say that the book has been written in such a way as to alienate an adult audience, who should also find much to enjoy.

Charles Packer

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