Originally published: 9 July 2020
Author: Tracy Darnton
Published by: Little Tiger
Length: 304 pages
Reading dates: 20-21 June 2020
Age range: 13-16
Today I am lucky enough to host a guest post from Tracy Darnton, author of The Rules. Over to you Tracy…
My latest thriller The Rules is published 9 July 2020 and I’d like to share a few of the objects used in the book to give you a sense of it.
So what’s The Rules about? The Rules is a YA thriller about Amber on the run from her prepper dad. Her whole childhood was spent preparing for disaster like catastrophic climate change, civil unrest and, er, pandemic, and having to live by her dad’s strict set of Rules. But now Amber has to stay hidden from him – the man who taught her everything she knows about survival and staying under the radar. The Rules are kicking in again even though she’s tried to forget them. But what’s her dad got planned at the ultimate preppers’ bunker, and is the pull of the Rules too strong or are Rules always meant to be broken?
Here are five of the objects from the book and how they’re described to give you a sense of The Rules.
Grab-and-Go bag –
Every prepper has their Grab-and-Go Bag. A Bug-out Bag or Go Bag that enables you to get through the first seventy-two hours of any emergency. You can debate endlessly about what exactly should be in the perfect Grab-and-Go Bag. A good night out for a prepper would be three hours of debate with another prepper about who has the best kit list. That’s how we roll.
Advent calendar –
At the last minute, I pick up Julie’s advent calendar. I open the first window which reveals a tiny ‘Letter to Santa.’ Ironic. Dad’s letter came with a major implication that I am on the naughty list, for being quite so difficult to find. Thanks to him, now I’ve no idea where I’ll be by the time the rest of the cheap glittery card windows are open. I shouldn’t bring the advent calendar. It serves no purpose. But still, it goes in my bag.
Emergency plan –
I pull out my emergency plan, my hands shaking slightly. It’s short. Options in the event of imminent disaster are to stay put and fortify, or bug out and go. I choose the second.
Canned food –
Like everything, he had a system which he agonised over and which became crazier over time. Rule: Everything has its place. Cans and jars should face forward and be exactly one centimetre apart. I had to use a ruler – a wooden one that hurt when Dad rapped it across my knuckles if I got it wrong.
“Do you want me to rub two sticks together to light the fire,” says Josh.
“If it makes you happy.” I let him struggle for a few minutes before I toss a box of matches from my bag at him. “But I usually use one of these.”
So there you go – a flavour of The Rules in five objects. Hope you enjoy discovering the entire book.
Hope you enjoyed Tracy’s guest post. The other bloggers on the tour are below – be sure to check out their posts!
I thought The Rules was an exciting thriller that teenagers would absolutely love. Amber is a great character – not particularly nice to her social worker or Josh (the boy she meets while she is on the run) but she has been through a lot and has learnt not to rely on other people. As we get filled in on Amber’s back story, we hear about how her dad got more and more extreme with his survivalist way of life, treating Amber and her mum terribly, until Amber’s mum ended up in a psychiatric unit.
I’m sure there are people like Amber’s dad around, who store food and try and live off grid so as to survive any disasters. Reading this in the middle of a pandemic (one of the disasters he is guarding against) was a little unnerving!
The pacing of the story was good and while the book is aimed at younger teenagers, I felt it dealt with issues like abuse well. I liked the fact that the book didn’t shy away from the things that happened to Amber, and I felt it was just as thrilling as many adult books I have read. I was never entirely sure what would happen next and I liked the fact it didn’t feel safe. I will be definitely be recommending it to the teenagers in my life!
Thank you to Charlie at Little Tiger for the proof copy and for inviting me on the blog tour, and to Tracy for the brilliant guest post.
About the author
Tracy Darnton is the author of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-shortlisted THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES. Having previously worked as a solicitor, Tracy graduated with Distinction from the Bath Spa MA Writing for Young People in 2016. She won the Stripes YA Short Story Prize, run in partnership with The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize. Tracy lives in Bath with her husband and two sons.