White Rabbit, Red Wolf

White Rabbit, Red Wolf

Tom Pollock,

White Rabbit, Red Wolf

Walker Books, 2018

ISBN 9781406378177

14-16 Shortlist 2019


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out of 5



Who Wrote It?

Tom Pollock is a graduate of the Sussex University Creative Writing Programme, and a member of the London-based writers’ group The T-Party. A long-time fan of science fiction and fantasy, he has spectacularly failed to grow out of his obsession with things that don’t, in the strictest sense of the word, exist. 

He has his master of fine arts degree from Sussex University and also holds a master’s degree in philosophy and economics from Edinburgh University. 

He has lived everywhere from Scotland to Sumatra, but the peculiar magic of London has always drawn him back.

What's It About?

A taut thriller about murder, maths and the mind.

Peter Blankman is afraid of everything but must confront truly unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked. Seventeen-year-old Peter is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine.

Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength.

Fact File

Tom’s writing influences and inspirations are Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, David Almond and Alan Garner.

Tom pretty much does all his writing at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. He says, “It’s light and airy, has plug sockets, and as a bonus, internet access flaky enough to guarantee that I’ll concentrate on my writing”.

Battersea Power Station is a London landmark that has inspired Tom’s writing!

Tom has a sweet tooth and particularly loves ice cream. 

To find out more about Tom, follow him on Twitter @tomhpollock

Your Reviews

Max from King James's School, Knaresborough:

Evocative, moving, tense, gripping: a triumph.

I found this book very surreal. Upon opening I was inclined to think, that it would be a dramatic novel, however I was soon surprised to learn that this book is predominantly action based. Despite this slightly abrupt genre change, I found that this book’s interesting, relatable characters and exciting, fast-paced narrative made for a thrilling, but powerful, read. Furthermore, the intense storyline created a potent sense of drama, therefore providing true escapism.

The story involves 17 year-old Peter Blankman, a maths prodigy suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, his friend Astrid (who also has anxiety issues) and Peter’s twin sister Anabela (Bel) who is equally strong-willed. We follow them as they fight and struggle, learn that nothing in their world is what it seems and eventually discover that everybody they had ever loved has turned against them. Although, in some ways, these characters and their actions seem rather far-fetched, the characters’ emotions humanise them in such a way that the they are very relatable and easy to empathise with.

As the story is narrated by Peter (a technique that, I must admit, I rarely enjoy), we begin to understand the complexities of the character and ,amongst the many spell-binding plot twists, we see that, unlike his favourite obsession Peter is far from linear and is impossible to calculate.

I relished this book and would definitely recommend it to lovers of both drama and action books.

Max gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Thomas from King James's School, Knaresborough:

Interesting ,complex ,new experience of character ,detailed ,hard to follow.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf follows Petey as he tries to find out who tried to kill his mother. Petey is seventeen years old but he has constant panic attacks and relies on his sister Bel for comfort. However, it features many twists throughout the book.

My favourite character in the book is Petey because not only is he the main character but the author has made him a likeable person. This book kept me guessing right to the end as the storyline is complex but still entertaining. To me the book was very detailed and the characters were well developed.

At some points in the book I was lost as there were so many details and facts you had to remember. Also in the action scenes I do not think the author described the surroundings of the character well enough as I like to be able to picture the scene in my head.

However near the end of the book it raises a question ( which I cannot tell you as it would spoil the book for those people who have not yet have not read it ) which makes you really curious about the answer but the book ends just before it is solved which I feel is really annoying but I understand why it has been done. I would recommend this book to people 11+ as it does have some very violent scenes.

Thomas gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Poppy from King James' School:

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions, and a well written one at that. I was enthralled by the first chapter and the mystery was suspenseful and tense, things I don’t often enjoy or consider well-done in many other books. White Rabbit Red Wolf was far outside my comfort zone but I found myself loving it anyway. Honestly, I would have rated this book a 4/5 until the last couple of chapters. These chapters were just so shatteringly impactful I couldn’t justify a lower rating. The amount of times I accidentally said ‘no!’ out loud whilst reading this is frankly embarrassing but I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone who wants a thrilling, immersive read.

Poppy gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Survival Game by Nicky Singer.

Martha from Benton Park:

This book was very intriguing and thrilling during the first part of the story; in my opinion it was the strongest part.

The ending wasn’t for me, as it definitely took from the rest if the book. It made you question what was real, and therefore I am confused as well as unsure what happened.

Martha gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Ambur from Allerton High School:

I found this book very interesting in the aspects of how the book leaves you questioning the morality of the characters and whether story you have been told is true. The main character has severe panic attacks and the book gives you an insight to how mental disorders can effect you.

Ambur gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Tara from Guiseley School:

I loved almost every aspect of this book. It's thrilling, descriptive, and the character portrayal of Peter, the main character, makes you feel his emotions through the pages. There are plot twists, betrayals, and you are left on a cliffhanger with unanswered questions that you yourself can choose the answer to. The only thing I didn't like was that it could be a bit confusing at times and perhaps a bit over complicated, but that is just my opinion. Great book, hope there's a sequel!

Tara gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Evie from Benton Park:

This book was very interesting and always had me on edge however getting towards the end I was just plain confused. The ending in my opinion was a little disappointing but the concept was good.

Evie gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Amy from Farnley acadamy:

I enjoyed this book but thought it it was slightly too descriptive

Amy gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 3 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Molly from Farnley Academy:

This book is purely genius. It shines a new light on the struggles of mental health and the importance and presence of mathematics in the real world.

The character of Peter is definitely relatable, a scared young man with the mind of a modern day Alan Turing.

I really enjoyed this book, rarely putting it down. It was a little over descriptive in places and this is why I have decreased a star.

This is a must read, however, if you are not a lover of maths, this may not be the book for you.

Molly gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Survival Game by Nicky Singer.

LM from Manor CE Academy :

I would rate Red Wolf, White Rabbit 5 star because the whole story was extremely well written. Also the plot twists still make me think hard and completely blew my mind. I would have never expected them! The story had me so focused on red herrings that I didn’t realise other elements until they were mentioned towards the end, it’s great!

Also, the final paragraph finished the book perfectly and left me so amazed and confused that I had to go run my ideas and thoughts with someone who hadn’t read the book and completely didn’t understand me!

I wish I could read the book a million times because I’m so in love with it and think everybody should read it!

Another clever element was the hidden butterflies on the book cover that only make sense once you’ve read the whole book.

LM gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Geoff from King James's School, Knaresborough:

Scary, thrilling, fast-paced, inconclusive.

This book is about a 17-year-old called Pete who is a maths prodigy and has quite horrible anxiety. His mother gets stabbed at an awards ceremony and Pete is thrown into a world full of horror and state secrets.

My reasoning for these words is that I feel the book may have been too descriptive in some parts where not necessary and not descriptive enough when required, in order to really immerse the reader into the world. However, this device was probably to add or sustain tension and excitement as well as to keep the action moving. Yet this still requires a quick summary at least of surroundings to make the environment more real and create an original image in your head and not something based off of previous experiences.

Moreover, when there was too much description, it made the book hard to read. It had points in it where I wanted to stop reading from boredom or from nausea at the gory parts that cropped up occasionally. Also, the ending left too many loose ends that needed tying up. The ending warranted an epilogue, or a sequel at a stretch. This is likely to have been to maintain suspense right through to the end but ended up making the story just seem slightly rushed.

This book lived up to its theme, being quite a thriller in and of itself, but it doesn't seem to top many others plot-wise. It was a bit unnerving the way the plot twisted and turned. Some characters had a lot of depth to them and others did not, making their motives hard to understand. This book was too much of a rollercoaster to understand to the fullest extent and get the most enjoyment out of it.

That being said, this book was in no way a terrible book and was quite enjoyable in some places. Occasionally, I found it difficult to stop reading. There were common points, making it easier to stop by not ending on a cliffhanger (I normally only read at night before bed it helps to make me not dwell on possibilities and sleep easier.) I did enjoy this book and have no regrets about spending time reading it and hope to see something similar again as it was quite a nice take on thrillers by throwing in a bit of humour here and there with a touch of horror.

Geoff gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read Payback by M A Griffin.

Elisha from Cardinal Heenan:

This is a really amazing book that makes your heart race with excitement! The front cover was really deceiving because I thought that it wouldn’t be filled with action but it actually is. Even though I found part of it a bit confusing, I still enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good spy story ????? ?????.

Elisha gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 4 out of 5 and now plans to read Payback by M A Griffin.

Diana from Southfield Grange Campus:

What a roller-coaster of a book! Tom Pollock really knows how to intrigue a reader and make them feel what the characters are feeling. He knows how to create real panic in just a few words and that makes this story stand out in the crowd. Whenever Pete would have a panic attack, I would also get a racing heart and hear my blood pounding against my ear drums. Pollock’s words painted base colours on a blank canvas, sentences painted shapes, and paragraphs painted the finishing touches, which by the end of the book created an almost finished masterpiece.

Also, the amount of time and energy that was put into this book is visible when you’re reading it. So much intricacy and care were put into all the mathematics. It was a real change from what I’ve ever read before. I am not a big fan of maths, but this book has made me see the beauty of maths and how much of it affects our lives without us knowing it. Simply fascinating.

But, as I’d mentioned, the novel was an almost finished masterpiece. By this, I mean that the ending seemed quite rushed. When Pete’s mother revealed something quite shocking near the very last pages, it seemed like we were going to get a complete answer on the very last page, but that was not the case. It was very abrupt, almost as if Pollock didn’t know how to finish the novel or had gotten bored of writing the novel by the last few sentences.

The entire novel is really well done, one of my favourites to be exact, but the only thing that bothers me is the last two or so sentences. If the story was meant to be left open-ended and made to make the reader make up their own ending, then Tom Pollock really did do a good job of that. If not, then I really do need a sequel because the story really is too interesting and unique to be left at such an abrupt ending.

Diana gave White Rabbit, Red Wolf 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart.