Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Anthem for Jackson Dawes Author: Celia Bryce
Genre:  Contemporary
Pages: 240
Published: April 30th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Megan Bright and Jackson Dawes are two teenagers who first meet each other on the hospital ward where they are both being treated for cancer. Megan is scared and worried about her illness, but Jackson seems to be an old hand, having been on the ward for ages. And everybody loves Jackson! He is a whirlwind of life and energy, warmth and sparkle. Megan will need to borrow some of Jackson's extraordinary optimism to face her and Jackson's future. A moving story of first love and a remarkably powerful debut novel."~Goodreads
 Even though I'm not usually drawn to contemporary romance, I make an exception for issues books. One of the big sub genres for YA contemporary issues books is cancer/illness.  With so many "cancer books" out there it's easy for a story like this one to get lost in the shuffle.  While Anthem for Jackson Dawes very much follows the same pattern as many of these books, it's still worth the read.


  • Jackson:  I really enjoyed Jackson's character.  He was so much fun and full of energy.  He really jumped off of the page for me and helped me get into the story.  His adventurous spirit and frequent field trips around the hospital were the best parts of the book for me.  Not only is he fun and mischievous, he also has a huge heart.  His interactions with the younger patients in the hospital were more touching for me than his interactions with Megan.  He was the life force of this story.
  • The overall feeling:  In the beginning of the book Megan doesn't want to go to the hospital.  It's strange and new and she doesn't feel right there.  However, after undergoing months of treatments for her cancer it becomes a second home and she feels out of place when she leaves.  The author did a great job of making this feeling real.  I was right there with Megan and it was easy to understand her emotions and reservations about leaving the ward.  I really didn't expect to feel that way, then again neither did Megan.  Atmospherically, the book was great.
  • The dialogue:  This is a distinctly British book and the way the dialogue is written really helped the characters come alive for me.  I could hear each one of their voices and every one was made so unique and given their own personality through the dialogue.  Even without being British myself I was able associate each individual with their dialect and that was a lot of fun.


  • Megan wasn't my favorite:  First of all, let me preface this by saying that I am used to reading slightly older teen characters.  Megan was only 14 and her immaturity was evident throughout the book.  However, even leaving room for her age she was pretty whiny and self-centered.  I just didn't connect with her the way I would have liked.  I also didn't really care for her romance with Jackson.  There just wasn't much chemistry there.
  • Where's the drama?: For a book about kids who have serious illnesses this book wasn't very heavy on the drama.  I kept thinking something was going to happen and then it wouldn't.  At the end of the book there were some big events but they sort of passed by without much fanfare which I found odd.  I wish there would have been a bit more heaviness to this book.

While I wouldn't call this story groundbreaking, it does have it's moments.  It is a quick, surprisingly upbeat read that is great for a younger YA audience.  It isn't the kind of book that will devastate you and leave you moping for days, but it does tug on the heartstrings.  Overall, I would say give it a go.

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