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  • Published: 17 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241505618
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $19.99

The Upper World

  • Femi Fadugba

A startling original thriller from major new talent Femi Fadugba, THE UPPER WORLD is as mind-blowing as a Christopher Nolan epic with the high-stakes drama of TOP BOY.

A game-changing thriller about two teenagers a generation apart, connected by one bullet with the power to devastate both of their lives. Get ready to reconsider everything you thought you knew about time . . .

Esso is a teenager running out of time and into trouble. Accidentally caught up in a gang war, he receives an unexpected gift: access to a world where he can see glimpses of the past and future. But now Esso has the devastating knowledge that the road he is on will eventually lead to the deaths of the people he loves most.
A generation later, football prodigy Rhia is about to lose everything. When a man comes into her life claiming to know the key to time travel and asking for her help, she becomes obsessed with finding a way back to the past to save the parents she never got to meet . . .

Two teenagers. Fifteen years. One chance to stop a bullet.

  • Published: 17 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241505618
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $19.99

Praise for The Upper World

[An] ambitious and highly addictive sci-fi thriller . . . The theory of relativity and time-travel science may drive the incredibly tense and compelling plot, but it is Fadugba's skill in weaving this around complex characters and a very powerful human story that makes The Upper World so special.

Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

To have a book that marries real London life, time travel and relativity in an illuminating and entertaining way is stuff I used to dream about. I had The Upper World in my hands until I finished it. So happy this exists.

Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya

For days after reading [The Upper World], I was left with what I can only describe as an electricity surging through my spirit. Fadugba is an impeccable weaver of universes and this is a book I will return to time and time again.

Caleb Femi

Wow! The Upper World is a time-twisting, mind-bending thrill ride. I raced through the pages trying to keep up with Esso and Rhia - if I could read at the speed of light, I would have! This south London epic will stay with you long after the final page.

Holly Jackson

A thrilling, electric book - so sharp and quick, so witty and wise it leaves you gasping.

Katherine Rundell

A rollercoaster of a story, like Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy with an Inception-style twist. Exhilarating and exceptional!

Kat Ellis

The Upper World is an astoundingly impressive debut. Thought-provoking, thrilling, funny, and brilliant in every sense of the word.

Katherine Webber

Truly mind-bending, fiendishly clever, original and stylish - I was blown away by this novel. Philosophy meets physics meets Peckham . . . No doubt about it, The Upper World is destined to stand the test of time.

Amy McCulloch

The Upper World took everything I thought I knew about physics, time, space, and energy, and twisted it into a new, electrifying story that I couldn't put down!

Brittney Morris

I think what I love most about this brilliant book is how it creates a few mini worlds (Esso's, Rhia's, the Upper World) and brings them all together in a beautiful dance. The Upper World by Femi Fadugba made me laugh, made me feel. I loved Esso and Rhia's wry observations.

Mary Watson, author of The Wren Hunt

This compelling thriller is set on the streets of South East London, a place author Femi Fadugba knows very well . . . once Esso and Rhia's stories start to unfold, this book is impossible to put down. One to read before it's adapted into a Netflix film starring Daniel Kaluuya.

The Independent, Children's Book of the Week

A mind-bending thriller that takes you to modern-day London and then twists reality back in on itself. Tenet has nothing on The Upper World.

Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Truly Devious series

A superbly original debut, written with extraordinary ambition and panache . . . effortlessly blends theoretical physics with all-too-human tragedy.


A sci-fi drama that captures the value of self-belief . . . The voices of Esso and Rhia, both smart and curious, are rich in slang and details of the lives and friendships of black teenagers, and their tale unfolds suspensefully, with emotion and writerly skill

The Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week

An audacious blend of quantum physics, Ancient Greek philosophy and south London gang culture, The Upper World is a blistering, ferocious science fiction story that asks, what we would change if we could, and what would happen if we couldn't? Make some room at the table, Doctor Who - there's a new time-travelling hero in town.

Melinda Salisbury

'A startlingly original thriller . . . one of the most compelling debuts of the year'

The Observer

Older teens will be blown away by The Upper World, Femi Fadugba's mind-bending sci-fi debut . . . the story brims with tension and emotion thanks to the authentic, relatable characters.

The Scotsman

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In stores July 2021, until stocks run out.

How I wrote it: Femi Fadugba on The Upper World

The debut author of the YA novel soon to hit Netflix on discipline, working with Daniel Kaluuya, and the complications of writing about time travel.

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