Game shows; like them or loathe them, on modern TV they have become firmly ensconced in the programming guide. And yet, you can only do so much to differentiate one from the other, and so producers must strive harder after each episode to come up with new ideas, new ways to inject excitement and enthusiasm into a television archetype.
In Money Burn, the titular game show, the premise is blissfully simple; through questions asked by the presenter, the million pounds in prize money is divided into different grids… and incinerated upon failing to answer correctly. It goes without saying that fire, money and game show contenders don’t make a match made in heaven, so the fire department is also a regular on Money Burns, in particular Gary Jones, ‘Chief Fire Fighter’ and media-proclaimed hero.
And so enters the heroine – Marie Jones; daughter of the heroic Gary. She is collected, keen and clever, with a wry sense of humour and due to her quasi-religious viewing of Money Burn, a wellspring of interesting trivia (for example, donkeys kill more people per year than aeroplanes!) and yet finds herself in the shadow of her over-achieving older brother, David.
You would be forgiven for thinking that everything thus far sounds completely normal in this story, but this children’s book does not fail to deliver with plot twists and turns worthy of an adult’s thriller, leaving readers of both generations scrambling to keep up with Marie and try and figure out what is afoot. After Marie gets the chance to accompany her dad to work, it does not take her sharp eyes to see that something is odd on the Money Burn set. Just what is up with the charismatic host, Mark Battle?
The story itself is a straightforward and smooth read, as benefiting the younger audience it was intended for; but it would be a disservice to say that this book was written for children only. Parents and children alike will find themselves spellbound by the plot that keeps brains both young and old guessing and the story is made that much more enjoyable by the typically, but no less refined dry wit of the author. A most amusing read; the only complaint this reviewer has is that it wasn’t published fifteen years sooner!
Review of Money Burn by Jonah Wilson by Benjamin Dagg of the Books Are Cool team.