Another page-turning teen thriller from a story-telling master. Prepare to fall in love with the authentic teen voice and to be gripped by a clever plot with an unexpected twist.
It’s New Year and fifteen-year-old Leah is looking forward to the annual family get together. They always stay in the same slightly ramshackle house and Leah, her cousin Ivy and family friend Jakob love to escape to the attic to catch up and make predictions for the future. This year, however, the comfortable traditions are disrupted by the changes that have taken place in their lives in the last year and by the presence of a new girl – sixteen-year-old Tatum. Nothing seems the same, especially when they learn a body was recently discovered in the garden. Then the spooky predictions they made the previous year start to come true and the holiday takes an unexpectedly sinister turn.
Anyone who knows me, or has checked out the Teen and YA reviews on this site, will know I’m a huge fan of Sue Wallman’s writing. I wanted to award her debut book – Lying About Last Summer – six stars and I loved her next book – See How They Lie – even more. It was, therefore, with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I opened the cover of her third book. What thrilling adventure was held between those pages? Could it possibly live up to my high expectations?
As with her other two books, we have a totally believable teen voice in our main character, Leah. Unlike Mae in See How You Lie, I found Leah immediately likeable. Indeed her reaction to her mum’s new boyfriend (Mr-Eager-To-Please) had me grinning through the first two pages, especially her observation that he ‘has a solid driving age of ninety’.
Within a few pages we meet the rest of the family and, yet again, we have a full cast of well-rounded characters with a fully-developed backstory. Every detail is just perfect and I particularly liked the contrasts between the families. These details are crucial to the success of this novel as the interaction and accumulated traditions of the three teens and their families provide the context for the uncomfortable changes that follow. They also serve to highlight the outsider status of the two new additions this year – Leah’s mum’s new boyfriend, Steve, and our fourth teen character, Tatum.
There is a sense of unease throughout the book which quickly intensifies when the family learn about the body that has recently been discovered in the garden. The tension then steps up another gear when the sinister predictions from the previous year start to come true.
Piecing together the clues, I was (I thought) one step ahead of our characters in figuring out what was really going on. However, I soon discovered that this is actually a deliberately ploy of a story-telling master. As I read on I, like our main characters, found I’d been looking at things in entirely the wrong way. All the clues are there. Yet it is only in the climax that everything finally slots together, taking the story in a totally unexpected direction with a revelation that is shocking but entirely consistent with every event and detail in the book. Pure genius!
If you enjoyed this, I’d strongly recommend you read Sue’s other books. Lying about Last Summer was selected for the Zoella Book Club while See How They Lie remains one of my all-time favourite books.
Publication Date: May 2018
Author: Sue Wallman