I admire Geraldine McCraughrean - she is an amazing writer. I have read a few of her books and every one of them is different to the others. In this novel she masters the art of the French farce. A farce is a light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect. In this farce she introduces the character of Pepper Roux - we meet him on the day of his fourteenth birthday which has alos been prophesied as the day of his death. His Aunt made this alarming prediction when he ws born and since then she had made it her mission to prepare Pepper for this inevitable end.
However, Pepper makes the courageous decision to leap away from the boundaries of his home and the prophecy and try to out run the long arm of death. Thus begins his adventures. He takes on different identities all in the attempt to trick the angels that he is not Pepper Roux and therefore should not die. He becomes a ships captain, a shop assitant, a journalist, a horse musterer... and so on. With each twist and turn in this plot we see a young man who is determined to live life to the fullest. This is such an outrageous story executed at such a fast pace that the reader easily suspends disbelief to accompany Pepper in his adventures. I think this would make a great clas realoud.
The Guardian review goes into much more detail.
This book has a website with interviews with Geraldine McCraughrean and the news it has been shortlisted for the 2011 Cilip Carnegie Medal - a worthy contestant indeed.