**spoiler alert** I'm going to have to be very careful not to accidentally post any spoilers and in truth I can't really review this book without reve**spoiler alert** I'm going to have to be very careful not to accidentally post any spoilers and in truth I can't really review this book without revealing a few so here's a ****spoiler warning**** just in case.
I'm not sure why I haven't come across the work of Mary Downing Hahn before (probably because I'm a school librarian in the UK where she's not as well known?) but I'm very glad that I'm now aware of her writing thanks to this deliciously creepy book popping up in my NetGalley suggestions.
The story is told from the point of view of new girl at school Annie, a not altogether likeable girl with doting, wealthy parents. When Annie starts her new school she accidentally falls in with disturbed outsider Elsie which alienates her from the 'cool girls' that she would otherwise have made friends with. She manages to successfully push Elsie away and restarts her school identity as one of the cool gang who are actually quite naughty and unpleasant themselves.
So far so slightly twisted Enid Blyton BUT Elsie is not your usual kooky, misunderstood outsider type of sympathetic character. She is mean, spiteful and seriously unhinged. Then she dies during a flu epidemic and becomes a mean, spiteful and even more unhinged vengeful ghost girl who tortures Elsie for her former bullying and abandonment.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the way that Hahn writes those everyday little tortures of school life and the way that girls can be so mean to each other very clearly so that at the beginning of the book Elsie is quite terrifying in the way that she grabs on to Annie so quickly and manipulates the adults around them. The book then takes a quite horrifying lurch once Elsie returns from the grave to haunt Annie and we realise that this formally cruel girl now has total access to Annie's life and has the power to completely destroy it. I also enjoyed the fact that none of the main characters are totally blameless, they are all quite realistic children in the way that they are mean to each other and don't really think through the way in which their actions will affect others. Hahn could have made us feel a lot more sorry for Elsie who has by all accounts had a difficult background and experience of home life compared to the other girls in her school. Hahn leaves this past quite sketchy however and although we do start to feel some sympathy towards the end of the book it's not a story of Elsie's redemption and I don't think that we're supposed to soften our feelings towards her too much.
This is a creepy, toe-curling story that I think readers of around 10+ would really enjoy. For UK readers I would recommend this book to fans of Frances Hardinge and to readers of Emma Carroll who wanted to try a bit more horror in their ghost stories.
(Honest review in return for a free copy via Netgalley)...more
I really enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. Although the plot is very well executed and the peripheral characters clearly drawn it'I really enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. Although the plot is very well executed and the peripheral characters clearly drawn it's the narrator Jemma who steals the show and makes this book so very compelling. I actually started shouting out aloud when I read some scenes as I fell for Jemma so hard and really felt for her. This book is a soulful teen thriller with a character who will live with me for a long time....more
I loved this book, I genuinely couldn't put it down and was even late for things over the few days I was reading it because I would try and sneak a feI loved this book, I genuinely couldn't put it down and was even late for things over the few days I was reading it because I would try and sneak a few more minutes of reading it before leaving the house! I guessed several of the twists but not all of them and enjoyed the way that the main characters evolved over the course of the book. A very enjoyable thriller for teens and adults. ...more
I have to admit that I had never heard of Radio DJ Christian O'Connell before this book popped up for review on Netgalley so I didn't have any preconcI have to admit that I had never heard of Radio DJ Christian O'Connell before this book popped up for review on Netgalley so I didn't have any preconceptions about this book. I found it difficult to get into the story at the beginning, the characters are a bit two dimensional and for the target market it might be a bit too slow to get going perhaps in terms of plot. Once Radio Boy started 'broadcasting' though it totally switched up a gear and I found myself laughing out aloud at the swagger of the main character, the choice of records 'played' by his friend and the sheer joy of the 'rebellion' that the broadcast spreads.
I will be getting this book for my school library and recommending it to fans of Stephen Butler's The Diary of Dennis the Menace series and Pamela Butchart's Baby Aliens Stole My Teacher.
Honest review in return for an advance copy via Netgalley...more
I am going to miss Harriet Manners and her gloriously geeky, intense friends so much that I spent quite a bit of this book tearing up. I have enjoyedI am going to miss Harriet Manners and her gloriously geeky, intense friends so much that I spent quite a bit of this book tearing up. I have enjoyed this series so, so much despite my initial prejudice at the title and the cover. This prejudice stemmed from the fact that I spent most of my teenage years being bullied for being geeky, uncool, a swot, a bookworm etc and so my immediate reaction to the work 'geek' was a defensive one. Smale wrote this series for the teenage me though, and for the thousands of other teenage geeks out there who so badly need to be told that it's ok to be enthusiastic about things, to get things wrong and to 'be yourself'. The series has never had a heavy, moralistic feel to it though, the characters are so adorable and the situations that Harriet gets herself into so funny that you don't notice the wider 'messages' as such which is a difficult thing to pull off I think.
This final book won't disappoint the die-hard Manners fan. I can't say much about the plot without spoilers but I'll just say that she brings all of the lose ends together perfectly to my mind and I'd defy anyone to finish reading it without shedding a tear or two. ...more
I really wanted to love this book as I loved the first book in the series but sadly I didn't. I**spoiler alert** >>>Spoiler Alert<<<
I really wanted to love this book as I loved the first book in the series but sadly I didn't. It's still a good book, and I really did find it 'unputdownable' but what made the first book so exciting for me was the dynamic between Jin and and Amani and due to several plot twists (and frustratingly several 'out of shot' scenes that happened between books) they aren't together in this book and when they are their relationship just didn't ring true to their previous characters. I also object on an a character level to Amani spending most of this book shackled and unable to use her power as I was so ridiculously excited when she discovered it at the end of Rebel of the Sands and wanted more 'superhero-bandit' action from her. There were some very well drawn scenes in this book and some fabulous new characters but it could have been so much better which is a huge shame. ...more
I really loved this book and genuinely couldn't put it down once I'd started it. Flora is such an instantly lik**spoiler alert** ****Spoiler alert****
I really loved this book and genuinely couldn't put it down once I'd started it. Flora is such an instantly likeable character that you're immediately rooting for her and I really enjoyed the way that her medical condition was used as a narrative device as it built up an incredible amount of tension. Every time Flora 'came to' and had to start working out where she was in her own story we as readers think that we know more than her (and start noticing the things that she 'loses' or misinterprets which makes us worry about her) but also as the book develops we start doubting some of these things too because she is by definition an unreliable narrator and all of the story is discovered through her experience of the world in these succession of partial snapshots. As Flora's mental state changes so our experience of reading what's really going on also starts to fragment and become difficult and I loved the very disorientating affect of this as it brings us closer to her and the action. It is because we feel so much for Flora that the final truth of her situation comes as such a shock and her drugged state towards the end of the book feels so very tragic- we immediately feel the lack of her vibrancy and love of life because we've been experiencing it moment by moment with her. I am going to be promoting this book far and wide to people as I think it's fabulous and that the experience of reading it is so very unusual. I also like the fact that it reads like a thriller but also raises gentle questions about perception, truth and how the fear of losing someone that you love can lead you to make bad decisions....more