In her new novel Caged, Theresa Breslin has placed her characters underground. She herself is claustrophobic so she was surprised to have picked disused parts of the London Underground as the setting for her thriller about homeless teenagers.
They have been sleeping rough, or have other problems, when they were found and rescued by ex-soldier Spartacus (they use aliases to stay anonymous) who wants them to come and live and fight in the tunnels. He has this idea that by staging and filming cage fights between the teenagers and posting the films online, they can earn money for themselves, and highlight the problems of the homeless.
The group of seven cage fighters live below London along with Tech who does the filming, and then they accidentally end up with a few more people down there, one of whom is the catalyst for what happens later.
Kai is the main character, and he feels not everyone plays fair, and he is jealous of his closest adversary Leo. All of them have terrible backgrounds, and they each dream of a new better life, somehow, somewhere.
This is much more exciting than you’d think, and you realise that all is not as it seems. The question is what’s wrong and what will happen to the young people.
Rats, blood, romance and birds all play a part in this illegal life, working and living in the tunnels. The teenagers need to stay under the radar of the authorities, but that can be easier said than done.
The book highlights what homelessness can do to anyone, whether young or old.