When love leads to death, be careful who you trust…
Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods.
Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.
**This book is unsuitable for younger readers; it contains discussions about murder scenes, conversations about sex, and slight profanity
This book just blew my mind wide open. I went into reading it with no expectations of what it would be about and the first chapter had me reeling, gasping for air. A group of nasty, cliquey teenage girls bullying a young boy, just a child in the most awful of ways. It made me angry, it stirred up a lot in me, I did not like this gang of girls ONE BIT. Very disturbing but critical to the rest of the book.
Eighteen year old Emily Heath tries to get these girls to stop tormenting this young boy, but instead a strange teenage boy comes to the rescue, a hero to this young boy and puts a stop to this torturous series of events. Who is the mystery man? Emily is curious, she wants to know more.
Strange things are happening in the place she lives, called "The Sham" by locals, this dead-end town doesn't offer much. Strange graffiti is appearing all over town, in a language that is ancient and unused today. Jack is an enigma but before long Emily is pulled into his world as she feels the urge to know him more, she gets closer and closer.
When one of Emily's classmates turns up dead in floods that hit the town and the river (one of the girls who bullied the child at the start of the book), the police start looking at Jack. They are thinking there was foul play. Jack is totally unknown, his history is vague, he has strange habits, like needing to eat all the time to have energy, I mean EAT ALL THE TIME, no matter what it is. Emily doesn't question this stuff too much, I mean it's weird right? But she cares for him regardless.
As more and more dark things start happening in this small town Emily finds that everybody is wanting her to stay away from Jack, the fingers point to him for everything. Her loyalty keeps her bound. She is to be commended for that to be honest, as it's pretty weird stuff going on.
The book is incredibly clever, you have no idea (but you will try many times to figure it out) who Jack is, you have no idea who killed the girl in the river, you have no idea who is painting the weird words around town (More than 100 times), but like me, you will think you have it worked out, you will be 99% sure you have got the picture. Then WHACK upside the head, wrong! Ding dong wrong! Ellen Allen is genius at weaving a surprise outcome into a very mysterious and almost untouchable book. This book just evades all logic at times. Dark yet funny, bizarre yet poignant.
It's soooooo hard to do a review without spoilers. At first I had no clue what the book was about, then it revealed a little bit more, and then a bit more, then I was hooked and just devouring this clever bit of story telling from the author.
The characters are incredibly well done, both Jack and Emily as protagonists are bold, well developed, likeable. Although I never could quite wholly accept Jack, but there is a reason for that, it's mean to be like that. The girls, the bullies in school are your classic love-to-hate bitchy clique, think they are all that and a bit more. Urgh! But well written, because you FEEL emotions towards and around so many of the characters. I won't even mention other fascinating characters that pop up later in the story. It would spoil it for you.
It's a serious story but it has some very funny and witty moments weaved into the book, it's a very clever combination.
I heard a gigantic tear as my jumper ripped and I splashed down face first. I swallowed jam down. I sneezed jam out. I was choking. I'd be a laughing stock. A crappy statistic. Emily Heath. Choked to death in a giant vat of gooseberries. Like that writer Tennessee Williams. He met his end choking on the cap to his eyedrop bottle as he was putting in his drops. Or those two people who died last year from Foreign Bodies in their oesophogus. I was sure it was nothing like the girl at school ever had to contend with, the Swim Champ. I was treading water in a pool of hot jam while a rotating whisk was carving up my belly and sides.
Yes, Emily gets herself into a bit of a jam (get it? jam?) more than once in this book. The imagery is spectacular and the authors imagination and her story telling captured my own imagination.
It has to be noted I was desperate to know who the hell Jack was and what his story was, I changed opinion on what it might be over and over but I was wrong. When I did find out I was speechless. Brilliant.
THE ENDING - oh wow!, what a series of events leading up to a reveal I would not of dreamed of in a million years. Suddenly everything made sense! Of course it does in retrospect. Hindsight is a fine thing. But it was GOOD, you know, satisfying. Yes, I am happy with that ending thank you author person, yes indeed!
I really liked this book, it's different, it's quirky, it's a mash up genres really, yes teenagers feature in the book, yes it could be called a YA/Teen book, but don't let that put you off dear adult reader, because this book is sophisticated and very clever, and very readable. If the first chapter doesn't scare you away (it's a tad brutal) push through and get to the end and come back and chat with me about it.