Tag Archives: thriller

Wreck by Fleur Ferris

Standard

Wreck by Fleur Ferris, paperback novel, 288 pages, published by Random House in 2017.

Tamara was excited to be heading off to university the following day to join her friend Relle. Things don’t quite go to plan. She never expected to be abducted, and drawn into a life-threatening conspiracy involving one of the richest and most powerful families in Australia. Her captor says to trust him, but should she?

Wreck is a super fast paced thriller told from the alternate views of Tamara in the present and William five years previously. Both are undergoing a traumatic experience at the time their stories are being told. Tamara is attacked, taken from her home and faced with the death of her friends;  William was aboard a yacht that wrecked on a reef and found himself and his family stranded on an uninhabited island. These events are interrelated, and will change the course of their lives.

The story really is very fast; I flew through the book, not wanting to put it down. It was an exciting ride that twisted and had me believing and doubting the characters in turn. The writing is good, with plenty of description and action bringing the story to life. I quickly became immersed trying to predict the outcome, and second-guessing everyone! A truly great YA read.

I quite liked Tamara; she was brave in a frightening situation, and was able to show empathy to her abductor, Zel, despite her fear. She was strong and practical. Zel wasn’t really scary, but he did take her against her will, so I would have found it difficult to listen to his story, let alone trust him, but Tamara finds it in herself to do just that. I also liked William, though my overwhelming feeling towards him was pity and sadness. His family treats him terribly, especially his big brother, Knox, who has been physically abusing him for years. And then he is in such a terrible accident and things only disintegrate further. Knox was a truly despicable character, yet very well written!

Wreck is suitable for high school students and beyond. You may also want to read Fleur Ferris’ other books, Black and Risk.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

Standard

charliepresumeddeadCharlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel, paperback novel, 263 pages, published by Nero in 2015.

Charlie Price is missing and presumed dead after the plane he was flying explodes mid-air. Aubrey and Lena meet at Charlie’s memorial service, discovering that they were both dating him. Neither one knew about the other one, and as they get to know each other, they find that Charlie was very different with each of them. Lena is suspicious of Charlie’s accident. She convinces Aubrey to go with her to search out the truth about Charlie. Both Lena and Aubrey harbour secrets as they set off on their quest for the truth, can they learn to trust each other before it’s too late?

The first time I started this book, I only got a couple of chapters in. It didn’t immediately pull me in, nor did any of the characters speak to me. When I picked it up again I pushed on, and within a few more chapters, I was hooked. So while the start was a little slow, the pace did improve. I read the remainder of the book quite rapidly and I’m glad I gave it another go.

Charlie, Presumed Dead is a psychological thriller for young adults. I did not expect it to be as dark as it was. There was some coarse language and low level violence, but it was Charlie’s callous and detached actions that disturbed me. He is a psychopath, manipulating and lying for his own benefit with no remorse or guilt for those that he injures along the way.

None of the characters were really likeable. I thought I could like Aubrey, with her naivety, but she had deeper and darker layers too. Lena was a spoilt rich girl with not enough parental supervision to mould her into a responsible adult. She is over privileged and throws her money around like it means nothing, jet-setting all over without a second thought. She is quite different to Aubrey, and Charlie presented an appropriate side to each. A quiet intellectual gamer with the reserved Aubrey, while being an eager clubber  and drug user with the more gregarious Lena.

The story was told primarily through alternating chapters by each girl in the first person. This sometimes caused the story to jump around a little, as the same part of the story was retold from the other girl’s perspective. I didn’t mind this method of narration, and I liked that each of them got to convey some of their memories from before they met. There were some chapters written from Charlie’s perspective, but these felt a little wrong. They did succeed in conveying Charlie’s fragile and declining mental state, I just didn’t like the writing style employed in these sections.

The book ended rather abruptly, and the final chapters were chilling. The fate of the girls could be imagined, but I do hope that there will be a sequel.

Charlie, Presumed Dead is suitable for middle to upper high school students and adults.

 

 

Eternal Inheritance by Rachel Meehan

Standard

IMG_4626 (1)Eternal Inheritance by Rachel Meehan, paperback novel, 231 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2015.

Sarah is only twelve, but when men claiming to be police come to take her away from her grandparents, she finds herself on the run. Frightened and alone, she tries to find her way to the city, to a man she has never met, but whom her mother had trusted years before. Marty agrees to help her, and along the way, they befriend Amy and Ellen. Between them, they attempt to uncover the reasons that Sarah is being hunted by the powerful and rich father that she has never known. It is evident that he is not after a family reunion, but what could he want with her, and just how far will he go to obtain her?

Eternal Inheritance was exciting right from the first page, as Sarah escapes her grandparents’ cottage to begin a terrifying flight of survival. It was a fast-paced, page-turning mystery thriller, which I enjoyed. The story flowed well, but was rather complicated with lots of information and back story emerging throughout the book, including science and medical elements. However, everything was brought nicely together at the end, which was quite satisfying!

There was a definite distinction between good and bad in this story. All the characters were well written and easy to picture. Sarah’s father, Parnell, was a formidable character, written as the perfect adversary for young Sarah and her friends. He was rich, powerful and arrogant, with no respect for anyone or anything outside of his own interests. This made him an easy character to hate. A true villain! Conversely, Sarah and Amy seem so vulnerable and so young. They are strong and resourceful though, and I couldn’t help but hope they would triumph over Parnell. I also liked Marty and Ellen, they were very altruistic to risk themselves to help a child they didn’t even know existed until she landed on Marty’s doorstep. They made for good, strong characters to help our young hero on her quest for the truth, and for survival.

Eternal Inheritance is suitable for upper primary school to lower high school students. There was some violence, but none of it was too graphic. I’m happy for my eight year old to read this book, though I think some of the science concepts relating to Parnell might be too confusing for her.

I received Eternal Inheritance for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

The Ice-Cream Man by Jenny Mounfield

Standard

IMG_4309The Ice-Cream Man by Jenny Mounfield, paperback novel, 187 pages, published by Ford Street Publishing in 2008.

Three boys like to visit a secluded billabong to escape their everyday problems and the challenges that life has presented to them. Marty suffers from Cerebral Palsy and spends most of his time in a wheelchair, Rick is living with his alcoholic mother after his dad died in a car accident, and Aaron is being severely bullied by his older step-brother. Their difficulties bring them together as friends, but the encounter with the ice-cream man will bond them for life. It’s very hot this summer, and the ice-cream van has been doing the rounds about town, tinkling its music to let all the kids know that it’s coming their way. The boys decide to play a prank on the ice-cream man when he doesn’t stop the van for them. What seems like getting even has consequences that the boys are not prepared for.

The Ice-Cream Man is a thriller for upper primary school to lower high school students. It was a little creepy at times, with some foul language and violence, but it wasn’t too scary for kids to read. Though perhaps they might think twice about playing pranks on other people in the future!

The main storyline involving the prank and the scary, stalking revenge that the ice-cream man begins against the boys was interesting and suspenseful. I did want to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next. I hope there are no crazy ice-cream men out there terrorising children, but this book makes it feel like there just might be one lurking around the next corner, just waiting for the slightest provocation.

I also found that I was quite interested in the boys themselves. Each of their stories were different, and each of them were facing different challenges that most kids will not have to endure, yet they were still moving forward and were able to trust and rely on each other. Friendship is so very important in life, and this is a nice reminder that friends don’t care what you look like or where you live, but they will always have your back.

The three boys were well described, though I found Aaron’s hair colour to be incongruous to his character. I just kept wondering why he would dye his hair in a shade that would only antagonise his step-brother further, when he was already scared of him and trying to stay out of his way. Of course, it’s completely inconsequential, it was just one of those little things that get stuck in my head, and it certainly didn’t detract from the suspense of the story. Otherwise, Aaron was a little down-trodden, as could only be expected after the treatment he had been receiving from his step-brother. I thought he became more likeable as the story progressed. I liked that Marty felt liberated and empowered by his wheelchair, that he didn’t feel sorry for himself. He made for an inspiring main character. And I felt that Rick was leading the hardest and saddest life of the three of them. His mother should have been there for him, but in her grief, Rick was left as the responsible one. Sad though it is, it smacked of reality. All three situations were well written.

I think The Ice-Cream Man is a good introduction into this genre for kids and teenagers. It was a good story and well written. I am happy for my third grader to read it, though perhaps not just before bed!