X by Jack Croxall

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“X” by Jack Croxall is a very good short story, written for a YA audience, but with appeal to all who love well written fiction.X is a teenaged girl, who has survived a devastating, apocalyptic experience. She is the only member of her immediate family to survive and she decides to record some of her experiences in a diary. She doesn’t tell us anything about how this horrific situation came about, but we are quickly drawn into her terrifying world, which is now inhabited by creatures that she calls “Uglies”. Given the chance, they would kill her, or infect her with their madness through a bite or even a scratch. She hides in a cellar during the day and goes out to forage for food at night, always on the alert for the Uglies. X records the demise of her parents and sister and there is a hint that she can recognise one of her friends who has been turned.

This story is full of understated horror and emotion. X tells her story as it is and it is the power of Jack Croxall’s writing which brings it to life. As readers, we bring our previous experiences to bear on the stories we read; I was reminded strongly of the masterful “I am Legend” and also the classic novel “War of the Worlds”. I hope that Jack Croxall will write many more novels and short stories – I certainly will be reading them!

As a footnote, I’d like to add that I think this story has great potential for use in the classroom. I taught English to teenagers for several years and, although retired, I found that when I had finished reading “X” I was thinking of all the ways I would have used it. There are wonderful opportunities for creative writing lessons and discussion.

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Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at www.jackcroxall.co.uk

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