Now if you are going to play the game properly, as the author would no doubt prefer, you are not going to read all of Nicola Morgan’s Wasted. The book, like the topic, is a what if book, where chance encounters and events take the characters one way or another. Sometimes the character tosses a coin and Nicola can tell you a bit about what could have happened as well as what does happen, but sometimes the reader has to toss a coin. And that’s weird.
Because of course the author has written two scenarios and you should, ideally, only read one, depending on whether you receive a head or a tail. (Sorry, I cheated, purely in the interests of research, you understand, and read it twice, following both outcomes.)
Partly because Nicola studied philosophy and partly because of her own experiences with ‘chance’ or ‘luck’, she has for a long time wanted to write a book that explores this topic. When people choose to absolve themselves of the responsibility to think things through and make their decisions based on the toss of a coin, a certain freedom and a certain bondage arise. There’s more of this in an interview we did with Nicola when Wasted won the Scottish Book Award for older children this year.
It’s almost a shame that Wasted is classed as a book for teenagers because it’s a thought-provoking read for adults as well, although the subject matter is of two teenagers falling in love and making beautiful music together â€“ literally that is â€“ Tess sings in Jack’s band. Like Nicola’s other books, it is fluidly written and well observed, the language is right and the plot dances along with a few twists and turns and possibilities that keep you turning the page. The lead characters are exposed to weakness, temptation and stupidity through parents and peer groups, but theyÂ are, fortunately, moralÂ so Wasted is not going to glamorise alcohol or drug abuse. But you the reader choose whether there’s a happy ending or just a resolution.
I read it a couple of weeks ago and it is still with me. Now that’s as good a recommendation as you’re going to get. This book is far too good to be ‘just’ for children!