Hoodie

Rated 3.83/5 based on 7 reviews
Ben (aka Hoodie) is a contemporary anti-hero, struggling to retain his integrity in a world of shifting values. His escapades provide a blend of up-to-date realism, dream-like escapism and gritty hard-hitting action, all while navigating a magical mystery tour of his mind. More

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Words: 107,870
Language: English
ISBN: 9781466123182
About Brendon Lancaster

I live in London and grew up in the Paddington/Notting Hill area.

Writing, whether it be poems, articles, letters, short stories or full blown novels, is what I do to escape into a world of self-indulgent fantasy, where I can create, enhance and delete whatever thoughts and feelings I have – where no rules exist other than those I choose to follow. And if others enjoy my writing, then that’s a huge added bonus.

Hoodie is my first novel and is predominantly geared towards a general commercial market, but also falls squarely within the contemporary / young adult market.

Here’s what people are saying about Hoodie:

'A gritty, coming-of-age novel, powerfully written by this talented, new author.' The Wishing Shelf Awards

‘Wow! What a read! This is a superb book with everything thrown in the melting pot! Romance, drugs, crime, teenage angst and social commentary are cleverly interwoven to produce a superb book.’ Self Publishing Magazine

‘...a top novel...’ Paddington and Westminster Times

‘…clockwork orange with a twist…would make a good film…’ John F.

‘…a compelling dialogue and impressive depth of character development…a slightly surreal rites-of-passage…I particularly enjoyed the boys’ relationships with the girls, which felt suitably confused and hormonal.’ H. Davis, Freelance Script Reader

‘I have recently read your book 'Hoodie' with great pleasure. What a great book, with a breathtaking ending!’ Emma Brocklehurst

‘Brendon Lancaster’s first novel is written well and I found myself feeling for the characters. Everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of the flawed personalities. But it must be noted that my favorite part to this novel was the last chapter -Can You See Me, where the author incorporates a personal poem. I found it poignantly emotional and authentic as well as an original concept to arrange an entire chapter that way as well as provide a clear and perfect ending to the story. I give this novel four out of five HOTS’ Ami Blackwelder

‘I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and could feel what must be the heartfelt sadness of a lot of teenage boys and girls. The loneliness of more than one character, although different personalities and different moral standards, gives not only teenagers someone to identify with, but a lot of broken adults. This is a book that I would happily give to my grandchildren to read and would hope that it would be used in schools giving students something educationally stimulating yet gripping that they and hopefully the tutors will associate with and maybe learn from.’ Jean Hassan

‘This is a great book and very well-written. The reader will want to it read in one sitting; I found it very difficult to put down. This is not a book for someone who wants fantasy and froth; in contrast it is brutal, gritty and honest. Hoodie is a book for and about today’s generation. It tells of dreams, consequences and coming of age. Hoodie is not a particularly likeable character, but his vulnerability in the fact of the harsh reality of life is endearing. We will all find something of the protagonist in ourselves, and while that may horrify some of us, if we are honest, we have experienced some of what Hoodie has too’ Self Publishing Magazine

Further reviews/feedback welcome!

Reviews

Review by: Ken on April 24, 2012 :
I find it hard to articulate my thoughts for Hoodie because it is such a realistic portrayal of youths of today. Reviewing this story is like commenting on someone’s life choices, you can say all you want but would you have done so differently if you were in his shoes? Hoodie may not suit everyone’s tastes but it is a poignant story offering deep insights into the hardships that modern teenagers face.

Hoodie is essentially a coming of age story about a young man, Ben or better known as Hoodie and his misspent summer. Ben like most boys at the age of 15 turning 16 likes to hang out with his mates, have a few drinks and maybe smoke a little weed. He has just finished his GCSEs and thinks he is now ready to enter into a world filled with opportunities and achieve anything he sets his mind to, be it a job or a girl. Sadly the real world doesn’t work like that and he faces one disappointment after another as the story progresses.

To make matters worse, a divide is appearing among his mates now that everyone has different goals in their lives. One wants to continue with his education while another wants to continue their business in wheeling and dealing drugs. What can Ben do to keep the group together?

Ben is not a bad kid, he is smart and sensitive. He is just missing a figure to guide him in the right direction. Coming from a broken family and lacking a father figure means he had to grow up much quicker than he was ready for.

Hoodie is an interesting story that I find a lot of resonance with. The writing is spot on for describing emotions such as the loneliness inside, where you can be in a room full of people you care the most yet still feel so alienated.

I think it’s this frightening sense of vivid realness that put some people off this book. It is a book that deals with real life issues, and not a rose-tinted version of it. Everyday many people are going through the things described in this book. I think more adults should read this to get a better understanding of what is happening to their children.

There are some scenes that I feel are over the top, but I believe they are needed and suited the nature of the book. They offer a fitting finish to a story that I could not imagine ending any other way.

While reading this book, I can’t help but draw comparison to Kes or A Kestrel for a Knave. Both books deal with a young working class boy and the very real troubles that they face. I feel Hoodie is an updated version depicting what life is like in the early twenty first century. I hope this story will make its way into more young adults’ hands. Maybe one day the examination board will assign this book as one of the reading books for GCSE.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kathy Jambor on March 06, 2012 :
I didn't enjoy this book for all the reasons listed below. I had a very difficult time relating to Ben, a.k.a. Hoodie, or his friends. I thought the plot twists at the end were borderline ridiculous and at that point, I really didn't care. Read my entire review here:
http://literaryrr.blogspot.com/2012/02/kathy-reviews-hoodie-by-brendon.html
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Katrien Schiepers on Feb. 11, 2012 :
Ben, alias Hoodie, has finally passed his GCSE-exams and (according to him) will never go back to school.
Summer can start and he steals drugs from the local dealer Papa Tee. Now he and his friends will have money to buy some new stuff.
Ben wants to be independent and is looking for a job. He is full of confidence, but unfortunately his best friend, Mo, doesn’t share his feeling.
He meets old Joe, a man who lives on the street, who tells him he will have a special life, because he has simian lines on his hands. This gives Ben a positive boost, but he doesn’t like the advice about going back to school that Joe has given him.
Joe also encourages him to approach Isabelle, on who he has a crush, but he hasn’t spoken a single word to her.
This summer will be fantastic, but sometimes it won’t…

This was an interesting story and I liked to see inside of the head of Ben, because he’s totally the contrary of me.
On the other hand, this was one of the things that made me dislike Ben. He is irresponsible and his mood goes up and down all the time. I’m more someone who will always take care of myself and others. But I think Ben is a typical boy and stuff like guns, fights and drugs will appeal them more.
The book showed how hard it can be to be a teenager and how some people look down on you, just because you are sixteen. But somehow I understand that, because at the age of sixteen, youngsters do not always know what they want in life and they are experiencing a lot of new things.
I really liked the parts about the love life of Ben, because it was cute to see him struggle with his feelings.
What I also liked was the end of the story. It was unpredictable and maybe not what the reader would prefer, but it was good!
This is a well-written story, but unfortunately Hoodie and me… It wasn’t the best match!

For people who love books about reality, but with a touch of fantasy, I would definitely recommend it.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: FictionBooks on Jan. 26, 2012 :
I am really struggling to know where to start the discussion about this book, as it stirred so many strong emotions that my allegiances and sympathies constantly shifted back and forth, until I found myself completely 'sitting on the fence'.

At times I just wanted to put my arms around Ben, let him pour out all his worries and troubles, then help to set him on a hopefully more fulfilling and worthwhile path. Then he would do something so crass and thoughtless, that I just wanted to slap him and tell him that I wanted nothing more to do with him.

Such is the maturity and intensity of Brendon's superb narrative, with totally believeable and genuine characterisations, relationships and situations.

The book is brutal in its vivid descriptions of the progression through the spectrum of anti-establishment activities, which the gang participates in, and with which they appear to be sending out a challenge, both to authority and to each other, as they increase in intensity and violence ... gang membership and violence, teenage sex, underage smoking, alcohol abuse, banned substance abuse, knife culture, illegal possession of firearms, underage driving and murder...

The writing is also perceptive, sensitive, well considered and balanced, when we manage to get Ben on his own and see his true personality begin to develop and expand ... Loneliness, aloneness, unhappiness, dysfunctional families who do not communicate, the need to succeed, the feelings that he should start to try and find someone with whom he can share his life. These are all emotions and observations which Ben is more than adaquately able to express , when he puts his mind to it and he is not being led and influenced by others in the gang, or is acting the big shot in front of them, with always something to prove. He is actually quite astute and observational when he takes the time to 'people watch', concluding that most of them are inherently unhappy and spend most of their time 'chasing their tails', in an effort to appear trendy and part of the 'in crowd'.

At what point, Ben wonders, was his innocence lost, when did everyone become so judgemental of him that he felt the need to close himself off from the outside world into a place of safety and security by hiding behind his hoodie. Why is it that the only person he feels really wants to talk and (more importantly) listen to him, understands him and is sensitive to his vulnerability is Joe, a disreputable tramp?

Joe is perhaps one of the best supporting characters in the book, although he makes the least appearances. Despite his own obvious fall from the mainstream of life, Joe comes across as an educated man, who is quietly aware and sensitive to Ben's inner turmoil and is genuinely eager for Ben to get on with his life and make something of himself. Things are going well between them, until Joe badly mis-reads the situation and his relationship with Ben, and makes what is to Ben, a devastating revelation, his reaction to which sends them both into a downwards spiral, with disastrous consequences for both and leading to their combined ultimate sacrifice.

I am not sure whether Brendon deliberately wrote the book in such a way, that the reader is almost forced into this position as a neutral observer, however, after much contemplation, I came up with these clear thoughts about the book .... It is, in almost equal measure ....

Sickeningly Realistic
Profoundly Touching
Emotionally Draining
Uncomfortable, yet unputdownable

Would I give this book to a Young Adult to read? ... possibly.

For many, it would certainly be all the deterrent needed to avoid this path to certain, total and ultimate self destruction. However, I would worry that for the certain, albeit small minority group, it might only serve as a catalyst to magnify, glorify and promote to exalted status, the power which 'Hoodie' and 'The Shady Boys', think they command.

On the other hand, I think that 'Hoodie' should be compulsory reading for all guardians of young adults, about to enter the 'Secondary', or 'Middle School' phase of their education. 'Hoodie' is an inspirational work of fiction, which speaks to everyone, regardless of age or social class, so if you don't think this scenario is ever one that you will face with your own young adult, then be sure to track the character of Isabelle, very closely.

The poignant, emotional and personal poem, with which Brendon chooses to close the story on 'The Shady Boys', is a fitting tribute and brings a closure and finality to the book, unlike anything else he may have written in its place.

On a final, lighter note, I loved the cover graphics for 'Hoodie', the design for which became apparent as I followed Ben on his travels to the skatepark, and was brought full circle by its obvious link to the book's title. So many book covers have no cohesion to the storyline in any way, that 'Hoodie' provided a refreshing change and set the scene before I even started to read.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jean Hassan on Dec. 16, 2011 :
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and could feel what must be the heartfelt sadness of a lot of teenage boys and girls.
The loneliness of more than one character, although different personalities and different moral standards, gives not only teenagers someone to identify with, but a lot of broken adults.
This is a book that I would happily give to my grandchildren to read and would hope that it would be used in schools giving students something educationally stimulating yet gripping that they and hopefully the tutors will associate with and maybe learn from.
This does have some anger, bad language, drugs, drink and even some reference to sex. Kids hear and see all of this and more, at home, at school and on the street, they are either the perpetrators or they suffer or see others suffer and it means they are afraid, insecure and very unhappy leaving them with a feeling of negativity and a lack of understanding of their peers, yet another generation of bullies and the bullied. So let your teenage and pre-teenage children read this book before they have to face any of these traits either in themselves or within others and maybe they will learn to understand themselves and others.
I would rate this book in the same category as The Outsiders, which I gave my own sons to read and they are perfectly good guys and good citizens
Well done Brendan, another good guy and citizen
Jean
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Ami Blackwelder on Dec. 13, 2011 :
`Brendon Lancaster author of Hoodie has emerged out of London...well, first Paddington, then Fulham, then East London and now Palmers Green, North London. His first novel was inspired by his own personal struggles growing up in London and the difficulties surrounding the youth today, his simple yet authentic portrayal of the main character of his novel has a wide appeal. His careful skills of observation with a hint of imagination helped him to create many of the characters.

Having read his novel it definitely has a flare of teenage realism mixed with slang, palpable dialogue and interesting characters. While this is not my typical choice for reading, the story was written well for its genre and rang genuine and I found myself feeling for the characters. Everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of the flawed personalities. But it must be noted that my favorite part to this novel was the last chapter -Can You See Me, where the author incorporates a personal poem. I found it poignantly emotional and authentic as well as an original concept to arrange an entire chapter that way as well as provide a clear and perfect ending to the story.

I give this novel four out of five HOTS: HOT HOT HOT HOT

Reviewed by ami Blackwelder
author of The Hunted of 2060
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Ami Blackwelder on Dec. 13, 2011 : (no rating)
`Brendon Lancaster author of Hoodie has emerged out of London...well, first Paddington, then Fulham, then East London and now Palmers Green, North London. His first novel was inspired by his own personal struggles growing up in London and the difficulties surrounding the youth today, his simple yet authentic portrayal of the main character of his novel has a wide appeal. His careful skills of observation with a hint of imagination helped him to create many of the characters.

Having read his novel it definitely has a flare of teenage realism mixed with slang, palpable dialogue and interesting characters. While this is not my typical choice for reading, the story was written well for its genre and rang genuine and I found myself feeling for the characters. Everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of the flawed personalities. But it must be noted that my favorite part to this novel was the last chapter -Can You See Me, where the author incorporates a personal poem. I found it poignantly emotional and authentic as well as an original concept to arrange an entire chapter that way as well as provide a clear and perfect ending to the story.

I give this novel four out of five HOTS: HOT HOT HOT HOT

Reviewed by ami Blackwelder
author of The Hunted of 2060
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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