Pavithra Srinivasan
BAD INFLUENCE by William Sutcliffe Bloomsbury, London, 2014, 215 pp., 299
November 2014, volume 38, No 11

Bad Influence is one of those books that you don’t have much faith in, when you pick it up—but once you’ve gotten past the first five pages, suddenly you’re invested in the characters and the story to such a point that you desperately need to find out what happens next, even if you have a fair idea. And that, in truth, is the book’s real success.

Bad Influence’s protagonist is Ben, from whose perspective the story unfolds. You don’t get much of an idea about what exactly he’s trying to say, in the first page; everything seems rather muddled. Then, gradually, the mist clears and you’re introduced to Olly, his whacky but loyal friend; Donny, Ben’s fearsome brother who usually displays his fondness for his  sibling by shaking him until his teeth rattle; Rachel and her friend Lucy (commonly referred to as Rachelucy, owing to their closeness, demonstrated by the fact that they always walk everywhere arm-in-arm, resembling a four-legged upright animal); Mum and Dad … and then, the character who turns Ben’s life upside down: Carl.

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