‘For as long as she could remember, she felt as if she didn’t belong’.
If you’re in the mood for a novel with a difference, look no further than this dark tale from James Morris. Despite being aimed at young adults the questions tackled regarding identity and the nature versus nurture debate are bound to appeal to a more mature audience in addition.
So what’s it about?
“You’re going to die.”
Shelley Marano is an ordinary, unexceptional high school senior… until the day she receives a cryptic text message, and her world tilts sideways. Now she’s in real danger, although she doesn’t know who would want her dead, or why.
As she starts to unravel the mystery, the truth about who she really is proves to be more frightening than she ever imagined. With the lives of her and her friends hanging in the balance, one thing is certain: Nothing will ever be the same.
This is a hard book to review without giving anything away but as you might expect from such a teaser, it’s a fast-paced story with an original twist. Whilst dealing with some fairly profound ideas, it also works well as a coming of age story dealing very early on with the destruction of all Shelley thinks she knows: ‘Lies, all lies: her relationships, her history, her identity. Her life. The world tilted.’
After a series of fairly terrifying revelations, one way or another she has to learn to re-build her life knowing that things will never be quite the same again. She is aided in this mission by her ever-loyal friend Winston who she herself describes as ‘her guardian angel’. Winston is the friend we all wish we could have had as a teenager. Particularly as a teenage girl! I warmed to him in a way I didn’t with Shelley which I suspect was deliberate on the part of the author. Despite her strength, Winston is considerably less flawed than Shelley and just an all-round nice guy. He is the Samwise Gamgee of the story and we all need a Samwise Gamgee.
If when you see the term ‘YA’ you see ‘easy read’, think again. This novel is not for the faint-hearted and that’s coming from someone who probably reads altogether more crime/thrillers than is altogether healthy. It has a healthy dose of sex and a lot of (pretty nasty) death. There is even one of those moments when you can see what’s going to happen, but your brain is begging to be proven wrong.
This is an impressive debut from an author who I will definitely be keeping my eye on. Highly recommended.
‘Anyone who’s ever been involved in this has died.’
You can get What Lies Within on kindle for an incredibly reasonable £2.29 at the moment: What Lies Within