"Emo" is short for "emotional" in teenage speak, and it is the adjective that the narrator of this grisly debut novel uses hesitantly to define himself, although, he is quick to add, he does not much like being shoved into categories at all. In typical teenage fashion, he is struggling with a labile identity.
There is certainly much to be emotional about when Craig Bartlett-Taylor, a classmate at his posh school, tries to overdose at the back of the classroom, only to be saved by an enigmatic newcomer, Freddy. Thereafter, the three classmates become part of a sinister suicide club, which will cause their lives to be dramatically uprooted.
"I'm a normal kid, and I have a good soul," the narrator tries to convince himself. But Rhys Thomas shakes concepts of "normality" to the core. It is a challenge indeed for an author to capture authentic teenage dialogue, and Thomas struggles with an irritating and inconsistent colloquial style, but this is nevertheless compelling subject matter.