Book Reviews

Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken book review



Sam Leahy is a shy, fifteen-year-old boy navigating two social worlds: the uptight bullies at his all-boys’ private school and the small uncouth gang in his neighbourhood. This gang of five follows the typical teenage-boy pattern: they drink, smoke, cause fights and vandalize property. Sam desperately wants to be accepted, but he soon finds that the only way to gain respect amongst the crew is to fight violence with violence. And it hurts. When it comes to girls, Sam is clueless, but when he inadvertently meets Antoinette, the girl of his dreams, who is perfect, blonde, slender and sexy, he is enamoured . . . only to learn that falling in love has a price. But being a teenager is all about redemption and recrimination, small events becoming catastrophic, and seemingly huge moments eventually meaning nothing. Through these events that shape a teen, Sam discovers the boundaries of sexuality, friendship, authority, and the possibility of death.

Is it bad that I brought this book because I LOVED Eoin’s character on Merlin? ha-ha.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I brought this book but once I started I couldn’t stop. This book should be immortalised as an amazing Coming of Age story for Teenage boys.

Sam is a teenage boy who doesn’t quite know where his life is going to next. He has friends, well if he can call them friends, that he hangs around with but they are unpredictable. Especially with their anger issues.

And then there is his friend from school, Daniel, the one who he can probably say is his best friend. He invites him to go on a double date with him and its there that Sam meets the gorgeous Antoinette. The girl who keep him awake at night and he inexplicably falls in love with.

Then there comes the moment where its time to have sex with her and that’s where things get just a little awkward. Then he asks her out on a date… and that’s the moment when his heart breaks because she doesn’t turn up.

Of course there’s the boys he hangs around with, Mouse, Washing Machine, Jesse and their leader Jayo, who, except for Jesse, are all a little… unstable. Jayo has a lot of anger issues, Mouse is following in his footsteps and Washing Machine… He’s not as bad as the other two but he could still knock you out with a punch. Then there’s Jesse. He seems quiet, introverted and a little on the sensitive side but, again he could probably still knock you out. The boys look out for Jesse though. Especially Jayo.

Okay digressing.

Anyway, in this gang of friends, Sam is never quite accepted. He always seems to be on the outside but then there’s the boat trip where he is accepted because he shares something with the boys.

Sam falls out with his best friend, gets into fights and meets a new girl, Francesca, and gets into the biggest fight of his life with Mouse and Jayo…

The book is brilliantly written and explores the minds of teenage boys well. In a way it brings to light aspects of mental health; The way Sam deals with life and death, the way he tries hard to fit in and the need to feel like he belongs. These topics are all things that teenagers go through. Especially in certain individuals. Jesse is also a character than can fit into that category too, especially with the scene on the beach. I felt myself crying a little at that scene. Jesse isn’t like the others, neither is Sam. I felt as though this should been a good premise for friendship with them but it didn’t really happen.

Also the protective side that Jayo showed Jesse. I don’t know if it was meant to be that way but it seemed like there was more than friendship there at times? Or maybe it was just the fact that Jayo felt like Jesse needed a protective figure and I’m reading too much into it. Ha-ha.

But Sam, I felt as though I was reading about Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower in certain scenes. They have the same thoughts on things and the same need to fit in but unlike Charlie, Sam doesn’t take things to the extreme.

This book should be given to every parent out there who has teenage sons, just to show them that it’s not just teenage girls who need help and guidance to things in life. Boys need the support too.

It was definitely a brilliant coming of age story about a young teenage boy. Eoin Macken has dissected the awful inner world of a teenage boy, showing how sometimes wanting the wrong thing can be the only way to survive among peers. The drink, the drugs, the sex and the violence, these can often be misconstrued as being a side effect of location, upbringing and parental neglect. This novel is a perfect example of how this is not true. The need to fit in can sometimes overtake all common sense, no matter what age one is, and right and wrong can easily become blurred.

I felt as though I was Sam at times reading this book (Even though I’m a girl ha-ha) I felt as though I knew this young boy. That I was there walking alongside him as he went through this journey and at times I just wanted to pull him into a hug and tell him that everything was going to okay.

And the priest Don. I just loved him.

A brilliant debut novel from Eoin here. Go read it!


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