This is a world of the future, a world of oppression, a world run on the strict rules of the toxic T.R.E.A.C.L.E. regime – Training and Resources for Educating Adolescent Children in a Loving Environment.
In writing Toxic Treacle Echo Freer has taken some of the most prevalent problems facing youth in the UK today and placing it in a future not too far removed from our time.
Single-parent families, state intervention in the raising of children and bloody youth violence on the streets. Toxic Treacle is a very British take on the Dystopian genre with lashings of biting satire.
Using teminology that could only have been dreamt up by a committee of spin doctors we have pre-breeders and pre-nurturers (teens), Nurturers (mothers) known as movs in this strange new world, Breeders and Providers the fathers whose only purpose is to provide genetic material for up to three children before going on to lives of work and play.
Monkey is 15 and only weeks away from becoming a Breeder, he cannot wait to move on from his gang-related lifestyle to live the life of his dreams, breeding with Angel and then moving on to becoming a pro-footballer. Lofty goals that many young men of today would wish to emulate. Monkey is a typical teen, desiring male companionship and confused about his feelings for Anel and fears that she will not reciprocate.
When his friend Trevor ‘Tragic’ disappears after a gang fight, Monkey starts to see beyond what the rulers of this new Britain want him to see and starts to understand that there is more to life than his selfish dreams and desires will offer him.
Toxic Treacle is brilliant! Offering believable male and female protagonists and a shift away from plucky freedom fighters rebelling against a monolithic totalitarian state (although there is some of that too). This is a novel about choices, the meaning of love, family and society and change, a change that comes not from a sacrificial figurehead but from ordinary people standing up and demanding change with the ballot not the bullet.
This is also a rare teenage love story told from the boys perspective.