Pax and the Missing Head by David Barker – Book Review

Pax and the Missing Head by David Barker – Book Review

Pax and the Missing Head by David Barker

Pax and the Missing Head

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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.

Review by Stacey

Pax and the Missing Head is a middle-grade novel set in a dystopian future. It contains forty chapters which are split into three sections.

Twelve-year-old Pax lives within the city walls of New London. The country is in a civil wall and the giant wall that surrounds the once capital is supposed to protect those within, but the people are not protected from a leader who has children working in terrible places and gives them little food. They are constantly watched and punished if they don’t support the cause.

After being moved from a job he loved to the sewers, Pax has had enough and takes the exam to get into the prestigious Scholastic Parliament where big things await him and his life will change immeasurably. But not everything is how Pax imagined it would be.

The first thing I noticed when I began reading Pax and the Missing Head is how the vibe of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell comes through strongly and I can only presume the author is a big fan of the novel.

Pax is a thoughtful, caring character who loves tinkering with things and has a real knack when it comes to fixing or building anything electronic. His goal is to become an engineer one day. He can be quite tough on himself and doesn’t put himself on a pedestal, which is a mistake as he is far more capable at most things than he gives himself credit for.

The plot flowed well and the pacing was consistent throughout. This is a great introduction to dystopian fiction for young readers. There were a couple of things I’d loved to have found out more about but as this is the start of a series these questions may be answered in further books.

Overall, I enjoyed the read. It kept me entertained the whole way through and I look forward to meeting Pax again.

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David Barker

David Barker

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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