First off, I’m putting this in a separate post here to avoid spoilers. If you notice something that you think I’ve missed and that should be on this list, please e-mail me to let me know, and I’ll try to update accordingly. This list is intended to serve as a set of trigger warnings for those who need them, and as a useful guide for any parents considering whether to allow children to read this.
As a general note to parents, I’d describe this as a book suitable for younger readers (twelve and up), but one that definitely deals in mature themes. If you’re looking for a good point of comparison, I’d put it on par with The Hunger Games.
Violence – There’s a fair bit. It’s scattered throughout the story, and I’ve always tried to keep it appropriate to what’s actually happening. These characters live in a dangerous world, full of dangerous people, and violence is going to happen. What I’ve always strived for is that the violence should have weight to it. It should feel real, and scary. Not something glamorous.
Gore – There’s some. In keeping with the above, there are places where it was necessary to really zero in on just how bad it is when guns and knives start coming out. I’m not interested in making everything super grisly and grim-dark, but violence without consequences is just a cartoon, right?
Abuse (Emotional / Physical) – Nothing direct, but an abusive relationship does figure into the story in a really key way. It’s not something that occupies any real “screen time” per se, but rather something that underpins a huge part of what’s happening with the characters.
Drug Use – Reference, though not described in any real detail, in one key moment. Again, there’s very little “screen time” given over to it, but it does figure into the story in a really important way.
Rape / Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse figures into at least one character’s backstory, and whilst it’s not really brought up in this first book, it is likely that we’ll be touching on this at least a little bit in later books in the series.
Swearing – There’s some. It’s like, three or four times throughout the whole book, I think. I’m not really interested in having my characters talk like they’re in a Warren Ellis novel, but I do find it unrealistic when young people in novels never utter a single bad word. It’s a reality that most teenagers swear, at least sometimes (yours included, sorry).
Sex – There’s no direct sexual content, beyond a scene or two that gets, as someone from the fifties might say, “a little steamy”. That’s about it really. I guess if you’re reading this to really young children you’d probably feel kind of weird about it, but then I don’t know if I’d advise reading this to really young children anyway.
Suicide / Self Harm – This is a tricky one. Directly, overtly? No. Nothing. Figuratively? Yeah. It’s pretty much key to the whole story. It’s certainly thematically present in this first book, and it’s almost certainly a subtext that I’ll be exploring more overtly in later books.