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Book Review: Pax and the Missing Head by David Barker #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour

My dear bookish friends,

If you love dystopian fiction, sci-fis and middle grade stories then keep your eyes peeled for the book I want to present to you today, I think you will love this one!

As always, a huge thank you to TheWriteReads, the publisher and the author for my ebook and my spot on this tour (none of which influenced my rating in any way!).
About the Book

In a country beset by civil war, New London defends itself behind a giant wall. Inside the city, children are forced to work from an early age, except for the lucky few who train to be leaders in the re-purposed Palace of Westminster. 12-year-old orphaned Pax is brilliant at recycling old tech. He enjoys working on the verti-farms and just wants a bit of peace and quiet. But when that is taken away from him, his only hope is to pass a near-impossible exam and join the other students in Scholastic Parliament. There he’ll make new friends and new enemies. He’ll get tested like never before. And he’ll discover that not everything is quite what it seems under the mayor’s harsh leadership.

My Review

Pax and the Missing Head is a futuristic novel that more than once reminded me of Harry Potter, it is set in a bleak dystopian world where the country is split into a big civil war between those in the countryside and those in the cities. Freedom is basically non-existent, and children are worked like slaves.

Pax, our main character, is an orphan forced to work on boring manual tasks by those in authority. He has few friends and fewer hopes, but is extremely talented at engineering and fixing things. He isn’t allowed to put these talents to use, but he sure is dreaming of doing just that!

At first I wasn’t so sure where the book was going, but I started to really enjoy it when Pax gets the chance to go to the Scholastic Parliament and get out of his boring day to day tasks and his rather unrequited friendship with Charlie for at least a little bit.

Pax and the Missing Head is marketed as a middle grade sci-fi, and from the start I felt this was the perfect tone and writing for middle grade stories. You read about Pax and want to follow him on his journey, want him to succeed and be happy. The further you get into the story though the more technological and specific the wording becomes, so I felt like it could be a bit too ‘highbrow’ (for lack of a better word maybe) for younger children.

The same I felt in a way about some of the themes in the story, from the civil war to the dystopian setting, but then again the author does a great job at keeping the tone ‘middle-grade-appropriate’, so it is put into a great framework. Oftentimes I felt it isn’t really fully MG, but also not quite YA yet.

I think Pax and the Missing Head reads like a great start to a new series, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

4 stars from me for this middle grade debut!

Thank you all so much for reading!





About the Author

“I attended the Faber Academy in 2014 and from that had three climate-fiction thrillers published (The Gold Trilogy, Bloodhound Books). I joined SCBWI in 2018 as I shifted my focus to a younger audience. My MG debut, Pax & The Missing Head publishes with Tiny Tree in late 2023. I live in Berkshire with my wife and daughter. I have a passion for stories, sport and boardgames.”

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