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
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).
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.
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.