"Let me tell you my story. Not just the facts I know you want to hear. If I'm going to tell you my story, I'm telling it my way. Strap yourself in..." Eliza Boans has everything. A big house. A great education. A bright future. So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?
Mate, this book, it's clever and sophisticated and smart and I am so thrilled Shirley Marr has come flying onto the YA scene.
The first thing you should know: This is one of those books where you are hooked from the first page. So, you know, be prepared for a page-flipping marathon because you won't want to put this book down.
I won't say much because I loved going in to this book blind, but... it opens after the murder and slips back in time to the build-up to the murder. You don't know who Eliza (our teen protagonist) killed or how or why - and it all unfolds so wonderfully. The stakes are raised, there's twists and red herrings and it's all delicately balanced: the fun with the serious, the fear with the bravery, the present with the past.
This book has the best of both worlds: a killer storyline and snazzy gorgeously witty prose. The story about the murder is teased out beautifully - with Gossip Girl-esque drama alongside some much more serious stuff that goes down. I love how well Shirley Marr blends her own unique style into one whirlwind of a book:
It's a fun book, but a thinking book as well.
There's slashes of violence and squeals of teen girl excitement.
There's depth and fear and frivolity.
There's friendships that are complicated in that way that teenage girls complicate things - fiercely protective of each other, secretly jealous of each other, hugging one minute and eyeing each other of the next.
It felt true and absolutely teenager-y.
The voice is completely delicious to read. Snarky and funny and truly startling - simply delicious and a little unexpected.
Let me tell you about Eliza.... I ADORE her. Which is saying something as she is not always the easiest protagonist to love.Shirley Marr has a similar gift to Courtney Summers (Cracked Up To be, Some Girls Are) and Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall) in taking an unlikeable main character and captivating you with their unlikeableness (I'll use that invented word) and then making you somehow come to care for them by the end of the sordid affair.
She's a perfect blend of angst, wit, drama and you can spot little snatches of ache under the tough exterior. The teen voice in this is nailed. It's blast to read. I had a little wry smile on my face, there's plenty of amusing snickering moments and a few laugh-out-loud appreciations for Eliza's observations on people and life.
Random things to love:
(unrelated to the review - but I just can't help myself)
there's rats. And a pet rat named Ratattack. I love pet rats and how COOL is that name? I have a thing for stumbling across cool pet names in books.
There's a mention of Richie from The Manic Street Preachers. I was so MAD-Crazy about The Manics (back in the day...) and I thought I was the only fan Down Under :) Anyways, you all probably don't care - but it was just an awesome feeling stumbling across them in a book. So - yay! haha.
Ultra rich people living in an ultra rich estate. It's fascinating and almost other-worldy, the lives these people lead. (well, coming from me, a westie-girl :)
There's an ending that you will still be thinking about days after you're done.
Recommended: It's a wild, immensely enjoyable read. Sparkling, oozing with wit - a fresh thinking teens noir. Who knew reading about a murderer could be so much fun? I loved it - it's a brilliant addition to the Aussie YA scene and YA in general - a rocking thriller that's a blast to read. I really cannot wait to see what Shirley Marr comes up with next :)