Flip

Flip by Martyn Bedford Flip is about a teenager who wakes up one day in another kid’s body. He’s a “psychic evacuee,” and his real body is in a coma. The YA novel relates what happens as he tries to live another boy’s life and then follows him on his quest to return to his own body and life. Bedford did a good job of taking a pretty unbelievable situation and making it believable. He also definitely didn’t make it too easy for his protagonist, Alex, stuck in Phlilp’s body: when he tries to visit his “real” family, they are so suspicious of him, they have him picked up by police. Alex’s fear, anguish and searching are believable and related well.

The worst thing about the book was that it seemed to hew to stereotypes about teenage groups and identities. Philip (“Flip) is a jock, and Alex is a nerd. We know this because Flip plays cricket and Alex plays chess and the clarinet. Flip is strong and good-looking, and Alex is mousy. Flip has about three girlfriends strung along, and Alex has never had one. Many of the book’s problems are created by Alex trying to deal with the reality of Flip’s life, which is shown to be pretty shallow. It would have been nice to see these binaries complicated a little, and to have discovered a less selfish, more creative side to Flip.

The sentence-level writing was good, even poetic at the climax. The story is set in England, so there are lots of fun Britishisms. The ending was happy and appropriate, though there was a missed opportunity to show how Flip had grown as well as Alex. A solid, enjoyable read.

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