Conflict, mistrust, a strong brotherly bond and bikes!, Denika Mead
Mary Egan Publishing
Hucking Cody is a young-adult novel by Aaron Topp, set in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Hucking Cody tells the story of a teenage boy named Cody who is obsessed with mountain biking and is struggling to prove himself to his older brother Zane. Throughout the novel, the relationship between the two brothers fluctuates between physical fighting, lots of tension, conflicts, mistrust and a strong brotherly bond.
This is not a fantasy novel, it is strongly based in reality and has no dragons or wizards in any form. The novel is written in first person with a colloquial air. This made it an easy read with a strong edge of reality. Cody is the narrator, so the reader feels connected with all the moral dilemmas, conflicts and emotions that he goes through.
Cody feels he needs to prove himself to Zane and beat him at something. “Look at him, he’s everything I’m not. Always has been.” This sibling rivalry is a common theme in writing and is conveyed in an incredibly powerful way in this book.
The brothers share a strong interest, bordering on obsession, in mountain biking. This sport provides the backdrop to the deeper plotline of family dynamics. There are a lot of references to mountain biking jargon which starts with the title of Hucking, meaning to recklessly throw yourself in the air using anything as a launching pad. I think hucking also describes Zane’s approach to life, which results in stressful moments throughout the book related to his choices and includes references to drugs, smoking, stealing and swearing.
Zane’s relationship with their father is another crucial element of the story. Zane and his father often don’t agree, his father not trusting Zane because of his son’s past gambling habit. Their brief, infrequent conversations are often tense and filled with unspoken feelings: “’Keep all your receipts…,’ added Dad. ‘I want to see where every cent is going, understand?’ ‘No problem,’ Zane said, ‘I’ll phone home every lecture too, huh?’” Whenever the two talk, their manner is always frosty, short and to the point.
There were times throughout the novel when the events and the character’s choices are frustrating and there is negative fallout for the characters, like when Cody falls in love with a girl and tries to get her to like him back. This results in flying successes and plummeting lows.
My favorite character is Cody’s older brother, Zane. Zane has an almost complete disregard for the rules, preferring to do things his own way. While he’s not the nicest brother – “I don’t know why you think you have to defend him all the time. It’s not like I’ve ever seen him do it for you” – he cares about Cody very much and wishes he could be more like him: “Hell, I’ve always wished I had your qualities.”
Hucking Cody is a large step away from the fantasy and dystopian genre I normally read, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hooked from the first chapter and didn’t want to put it down. I really enjoyed reading the book and cared about the characters deeply. As I was reading, I couldn’t wait to know what happened next. There were shocking and tense moments when I wished I could jump into the book and stop a character’s actions. I would recommend this book to teenage boys, people who love mountain biking, or anyone who wants an adventurous read.
Denika Mead is 15 and from Wellington.