Challenge #1 ~ “A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
My opinion in three sentences:
This is one of those that teeters on the 4-5 star boundary – whilst it is truly beautifully written, I can find no real justification to push it up to the full five stars. It was a wonderful story told by a spectacular new voice, but, for me, there was no zad-a-zing that made me sit up and go “Wow – this book!” As a contender for the Carnegie Medal, I can see why it has its place, but on this year’s shortlist I don’t think it quite has the power to make my top three.
(Without spoiling anything) the best bit:
The story was engaging from the outset. At first, the schoolroom rivalry and escalating bullying reminded me a little of Anne of Green Gables and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It gave a nice steady momentum to the introductory section, and Wolk kept this going as Betty disappeared and the investigation launched. Throughout, this pace was well-established, changed and maintained to suit the plotline, and both characters and plot were equally well-crafted.
A warning for the book:
For me, there was nothing special about the book. There was suspense, it was beautifully written, it wasn’t wholly predictable, sure, but there was no element of zest to give it a spark, and I think this lack is what lowers it in my estimations (particularly among its contemporaries on the Carnegie shortlist this year). Wolk is an author to watch, I believe, but I hope now she’s established herself with a well-crafted piece of art, future endeavours can look to incorporate that something special…
Recommended for fans of:
- The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant
- The Unforgotten by Laura Powell
- All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry