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After the First Death by Robert Cormier

After the First Death

Part of the Puffin Modern Classics Series
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In a Nutshell: Psycho-political thriller * Terrorist hijacking * Extremes of patriotism Unreservedly uncompromising, this gripping, thought-provoking novel raises pertinent questions about trust, sacrifice and the extremes people will go as a result of absolute devotion to a cause, and makes for a relentlessly intense reading experience.

The novel opens as teenager Ben awaits the first visit of his US General father since he was used as a pawn - by his father - in a terrorist negotiation that left him dreaming of “screaming children”. These screams belong to the preschoolers who were bound for day camp when their bus was hijacked, trapping teenage driver Kate in a battle between violent terrorists (“No one is free from war until our homeland is free”, they state) and a secret government defence agency known as Inner Delta, for which Ben’s father works. One of the hijackers, Miro, is himself only sixteen, but “he was not a child anymore”; “inflicting death did not bother him”. As the ordeal goes on and negotiations get underway, Kate begins to wonder: “what had made him a monster? This world, his works. Who was guilty, then: the monster or the world that created it?” But, whatever the cause, the terrorists’ actions are monstrous. As the deadline for meeting their demands draws closer, “eager to serve” Ben, with his “air of innocence”, is sent to deliver proof that the terrorists’ leader has been captured, and chaos erupts.

While the terrorists are prepared to murder to realise their aims, Ben’s father is so consummately committed to defending his nation that he’s prepared to use his own son as a go-between, and herein lies the moral crux of this complex novel: how far will an individual go in the name of their cause? And, in addition, how might any of us act in such extreme circumstances? Kate, too, finds herself “amazed at her ability to lie, to improvise, to plot and scheme.” While the themes are big, bold and masterfully presented, the impeccably precise writing also makes this a perfect – if harrowing - page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen

It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.


After the First Death by Robert Cormier

After the First Death is a brilliantly tense hostage drama, by Robert Cormier, the acclaimed author of The Chocolate War. It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first.

On the outskirts of a small American town, a bus-load of young children is being held hostage. The hijackers are a cold and ruthless group, opposed to the secret government agency Inner Delta. At the centre of the battle are three teenagers. Miro is the terrorist with no past and no emotions. Kate is the bus driver, caught up in the nightmare, and Ben is the General's son who must act as a go-between.

About the Author

Robert Cormier was a journalist and author, acclaimed for his young adult novels with their uncompromising examination of contemporary issues. His novels included the prize-winning The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese. Robert Cormier lived all his life in Massachusetts, USA; he died in 2000 aged 75.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th August 2016


Robert Cormier

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Penguin Books Ltd


336 pages


NewGen - YA Fiction
eBook Favourites

Crime & mystery fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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