After nineteen-year-old Cassie dies with her family in a car crash, the answer to her big question is that she comes straight back. Eight hours after being pronounced dead Cassie wakes up on a mortuary slab. The rest of her family are not so lucky. Understandably, Cassie feels that the crash has taken everything from her, but she soon discovers that the accident has given her something new too. If Cassie touches a dead body she can see that person’s final moments, witness death from their perspective. It’s not long before a desperate police officer attempts to make use of Cassie and her new gift, enlisting her to help find an elusive killer of young girls.
With Sant so practised in constructing multi-dimensional and memorable characters it’s no surprise how real Cassie and damaged love interest, Dante feel. ‘I’m most horrible to the people I like,’ Cassie jests, and it’s true that she comes equipped with an acid tongue she’s not afraid to use. But under all the sass and edge Cassie is a caring, intelligent and, perhaps most importantly, relatable character. Scenes with her gran are so often touching, and her growing desire not to waste her second chance, despite the total collapse of her life around her, is endearing indeed.
Written in the first person, Cassie’s innermost thoughts colour the prose nicely. The writing flows exquisitely and there’s not a clunky moment in sight (rare for a book concerning such an emotionally isolated character). The supporting cast are another highlight, made up of an array of interesting individuals, some intent on helping Cassie, some intent on using her powers to their advantage. By the end of the book there is a real whodunit vibe and plenty of clever twists and turns to supplement the wonderfully nervous action.
July 2, 2015Leave a comment
‘Inside we are all monsters …’ is the tagline of Zoë Markham’s debut novel, Under My Skin. But as the superb opening chapters leak tiny morsels of information, we see that it’s what’s on the outside that is forcing seventeen-year-old Chloe to cower in her new house, the heaters on full, the blinds tightly shut.
Under My Skin is a loose re-imagining of Frankenstein. Markham has taken the classic story – itself a groundbreaking tale of scientific caution – and reworked it into a contemporary young-adult thriller, heavy on elements of romance and suspense. The result is the story of a young girl, killed in a car crash along with her mother, brought back to life by her brilliant scientist father. The process has changed her though, and left her with a strange body and a ravenous need for protein. No feasting on the flesh of the living however, a big plate of bacon rashers or succulent chicken breast will do the job nicely.
As Chloe’s father works secretly to secure her long-term future at the local hospital, Chloe begins to tire of her isolation. She wants to get out of the house and do normal teenage things and this is where the book steps up a gear. As Chloe re-enters the real world suspicion creeps in (there are bad people after such a scientific marvel), but so too do normal teenage girl concerns like boys and fitting in.
At the heart of this book is the troubled relationship between Chloe and her father. Chloe’s father clearly loves her, but he’s done so many terrible things. How can Chloe ever forgive him? It’s a wonderful take on the often fractious relationship between teens and their parents, beautifully transmitted by Markham.
June 16, 2015Leave a comment
I’m thrilled to write that my new book, Wye is available now! Below is the cover as well as the novel’s blurb. Do let me know what you think!
Wye is losing hope. Sixteen and travelling through a rich wilderness with three other teenagers, she should be having the time of her life. And she might be if it weren’t for the thing hunting her; the tireless creature desperate to tear her and her friends limb from limb.
Through the remembered lessons of her favourite writers, Wye has been trying to make sense of the cruel world she’s found herself inhabiting. But it’s not working. Wherever she turns there are monsters and memories, both of them poised to devour her if she can’t find a way to live with herself. What follows is Wye’s last chance at salvation, what follows is her journal.
June 3, 20153 Comments
I’ve just got back from The London Book Fair and I’m still buzzing! This was my first fair, my first time at Olympia and only my second trip to a big bookish event (my first being the WEM Writers’ Conference last month).
The first thing I noticed upon entering the fair was just how vast Olympia was. There were exhibitors in every direction, big names like Bloomsbury, Harper Collins and even giant, ferocious dinosaur posters! But my nerves soon settled once I realised how nice the other attendees were. Everyone I talked to was friendly, interesting without exception and quite often very helpful (I get lost wherever I go).
The first seminar I attended was a breakdown of the recent Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) at the London Film and Comic Con, and the lessons the organisers drew from it. It was great fun to see all the costumes and hear about all the big names, but there was a serious component to the discussion too: how to reach and engage with teen readers. The YALC organisers made the excellent decision to involve their audience from the off, utilising the reach of YA book bloggers to help spread the word about the convention. Indeed, press for the event went out to bloggers at the same time as it did to major media outlets. A survey the organisers conducted also revealed that 59% of the interviewed attendees heard about the conference through Twitter. It would seem that the internet (being the modern, natural domain of teenagers) is the best place to start a wide-reaching YA lit conversation.
Another personal highlight was a seminar considering the challenges of financing a feature film. The panel of established independent producers were fascinating to listen to, and I’ve come away particularly interested to see the Outpost films and The Falling starring GoT‘s Maisie Williams.
All in all, I’ve had a wonderful couple of days, and I would thoroughly recommend bookworms check out the fair next year!
April 17, 20156 Comments