Wednesday, 8 August 2012

WEE ROCKETS by Gerard Brennan - a review

WEE ROCKETS by Gerard Brennan - a review
Gerard Brennan is one of those writers whose name I've  seen about plenty these last couple of years. Another one of those writers spoken as a cut above the rest. So when WEE ROCKETS surfaced, Brennan's second novel, I thought I'd take a look . . .

THE BLURB
Wee Rockets does for Belfast what Irvine Welsh did for Edinburgh. A gang of fourteen-year-old hoods rampage through West Belfast, indulging in violent street crime and mugging pensioners to pay for cider, cigarettes and sweets. Branded scum by a shocked community and pursued by a dogged local vigilante, the young gangsters’ antisocial behaviour soon escalates into something much worse.

THE REVIEW
The Wee Rockets are a gang of fourteen year old hoodies/yobbos/scum/etc. - whatever you want to call them. And as the blurb says, they mug pensioners for fag money and booze money and sweet money, later escalating to drug money and more. They spend their time getting pissed on cheap cider, congratulating themselves on their latest ill-gotten gains. They are not nice. But such is the solidity of Brennan's writing, the depth of his prose, even through their most evil of deeds, the fact the Wee Rockets are just a group of troubled children trying to make their way in a world they are desperate to find a place in is never far away.

Take Liam - initially a bit part player in the Wee Rockets. Early in the book, he tries to stand up to a fellow, more aggressive gang member - Wee Danny - and is left beaten and bloodied and tearful. When Liam sinks into some serious depths of depravity later in the book, I, as the reader, was never allowed to lose sight of the fact these were merely the expressions of a frightened child clawing in the darkness to find his place.

Through their odious activities, lead by Joe, the Wee Rockets begin to gain something of a local reputation, yet hoodied-up, no-one can be sure who they are. One man - Steven McVeigh - a built like a shithouse do-gooder of a vigilante - is determined to find out. He soon has his eyes on Joe as a prime suspect.

What follows is a story of family and gang loyalties, of broken children and broken adults, all set in the streets of West Belfast. But West Belfast is no mere setting in this book. Such is the strength of Brennan's writing, he is able to breathe life into the very streets. West Belfast becomes a character in its own right. And that, my friends, is the sign of a great writer.

WEE ROCKETS is a brilliant tragi-comic drama written with pace and verve, as colourful a piece of darkness as I have read.

WEE ROCKETS is available on Kindle at £1.99 from Amazon UK here

and from Amazon US here

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