How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Pan Macmillan- Macmillan’s Children’s Books


I found Jean’s friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live.

There’s been a murder, but the police don’t care. It was only a homeless old man after all.

Kieran cares. He’s made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you’re going to do it, for real. He’s going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. It’s a good job Kieran’s a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade.

But being a detective is difficult when you’re Kieran Woods. When you’re amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof.


I received Smart a few months back and I’m only just getting around to reading it now! I’m so pleased I got around to reading it, because I thought it was a moving, interesting read. I really grew to love Kieran and Jean. I really felt for Kieran throughout the story. It was easy to feel attached to him.

Smart is quite a dark story, despite its beautiful, light cover. It centres around a boy called Kieran who has a very hard home life. Kieran is a bit different to the rest (I think autistic?) he lives at home with his mum and her abusive boyfriend and his son. Kieran prefers to be alone. One day Kieran is down by the river when he spots the body of a homeless man Colin, with Jean, homeless woman that Kieran spends time with. Kieran spends a lot of time watching crime programmes like CSI. He believes the police aren’t taking the death seriously enough, so he starts to investigate what he believes was a murder. He wants to be the one to get to the bottom of it to improve his future job prospects at Sky News.

The characters are so well developed in this story. I was a little frustrated with Kieran’s mum. I understood that she was going through a terrible time too with her boyfriend, but I wanted her to find that strength within her to protect her son more. I hated the boyfriend and his waste of space son, I feel like Kim intentionally made those characters so vile so we felt for Kieran. I really did! I did like that Kieran made a friend at school. It was nice to see him friendly with someone his own age.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kim Slater’s writing. I found the way in which Smart was written was very sympathetic. I think Kim did a great job of creating a voice for Kieran. Although he was different to other children, he came across as incredibly smart and caring. I just wanted to reach inside the book and make things better for him. Even though the book is short, it covers a lot of issues and it feels action-packed.

I don’t think this book is particularly suitable for the younger teenager. It’s quite a dark piece of writing and I feel like some of the subjects it covers are quite intense and controversial.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

11 thoughts on “Smart

  1. I recently finished this and really enjoyed it too. I felt exactly the same as you about Kieran, and I really loved his character.

  2. I felt the same frustration with his mum, but struggled to connect with any of the characters, which is why I only gave it a 3 star rating. I enjoyed it but for such a dark story, it felt like it had very little depth to me.

  3. I just read Eleanor and Park, which has the whole abusive home life thing. It also has a deceptively cheerful cover, although it doesn’t have a murder mystery haha
    I think it’s really great that the main character is autistic but that isn’t necessarily a big deal since you weren’t even sure if that was true. We need more diverse and realistic characters!

    – Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

    • I agree that Eleanor and Park does have a deceptive cover. It’s good though, that such a deep story was inside both of these books! I was also pleased that this book was diverse and realistic. It’s nice to see issues dealt with so competently!

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