Tuesday, 28 July 2015

'Bomb' Will Blow You Away

'Bomb' by Sarah Mussi
Review by Christopher Moore

I'm Genesis Wainwright. I'm a sixth-form student. I come from Somerset. My mum is the best mum in the world. I play the guitar (badly). My best friend is Holly. I'm searching for answers to the Meaning of Life. I believe in True Love. AND I'M IN LOVE WITH NAZ. I want to be a performance poet. And I'm crazy about motorbikes.

I can remember everything.

Except last night.

When Genesis goes on a blind internet date, she just wants to get over her ex-boyfriend Naz. She just wants someone to like her again. But when Genesis wakes up the morning after the date, she can't remember a thing. She doesn't know where she is, or how she got there. And she can hardly move because she is strapped into some kind of body armour ...

Before she has time to figure it out, she receives an order through an earpiece stuck in her ear. And then a voice sounds in her head: 'You have been chosen for an assignment ... The vest you're wearing is packed with high explosives. And with one mobile call we can detonate it.'

To her horror Genesis has become an agent of mass destruction, a walking weapon in the hands of a terrorist cell.

The countdown to detonation has begun: Genesis must re-examine everyone and everything she loves and make terrifying choices ... in the face of certain death.
The best YA books are those that stir a reaction - an emotion - in the reader. Bomb is a book that will make you sick to your stomach, give you heart palpitations, make you really feel for Mussi's protagonist, Genesis, and downright scare the absolute crap out of you. The story is dark and twisted and much like Mussi's previous book Riot, which explores forced sterilisation and overpopulation in a not-so-distant England, she pulls no punches. From the first page, she demands the reader's attention.
I thought it might veer into predictability by the halfway point but instead, I followed Genesis on her rollercoaster journey that had me almost tearing out the final pages with dread. In particular, I commend the in-the-moment, fast-paced, action that drives the story forward; something not every author can do and not something that I have seen successfully sustained over an entire novel. Mussi intertwines this effortlessly with Genesis' character. Living in London, I love how Mussi effortlessly anchors the story in London without removing us from the suspense of the story and the emotional connection between Genesis and the reader.

You can't help but root for Genesis. Regardless of what you might think, you feel her pain and her fear and you really have no idea how it's going to end. I love Genesis. Given her situation, she decides not to play the victim. She chooses to resist. She taps into her own power and weaponises herself against the enemy. She's clever and calculating and we need more heroines like her in the world of YA.

I rarely curse but in the immortal words of Louise O'Neill, this book is a "total mindfuck". It plays on your emotions. It's dark and gutsy but ultimately, it's a compelling read that will hold huge appeal for male readers but also, it is something that I would hugely encourage girls to read too. It doesn't have sparkly vampires. It doesn't contain star-crossed lovers. It's a bleak story, full of action and suspense and the perfect book for anyone that loves chills and thrills.

Rating: 5/5 Stars  ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Christopher Moore:
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-four year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Follow Christopher on Twitter: @YAblooker

Find Christopher on Goodreads: Christopher Moore

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Friday, 24 July 2015

'The Vanishing Girls' Is An Edge-Of-Your-Seat Nail-Biter

'Vanishing Girls' by Lauren Oliver
Review by Sarah Nuttall
Lauren Oliver returns with her exceptional new book ‘Vanishing Girls’ once again delivering a novel that will appeal beyond her adult audience with a coming-of-age story with YA appeal. 

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver, has once again created a story that will appeal to adult readers with Vanishing Girls due to its rich complexity and emotional intelligence but with characters on the cusp of adulthood, faced with life-altering decisions, the books are relatable for YA readers too. The central theme of Vanishing Girls is loss; the loss of identity through a person’s beauty, body, relationships and friendships. The accident rips all these from Dara and her loss of identity and anger at Nick feels justified and relatable because Dara feels she’s vanished from her own life; a pale shadow of her former self. When Dara crashes a nearby party to avoid the first night she’ll see Nick, she’s struck by her peers' reaction to her now to what it would have been a few months earlier. When her best friend drops by to return her possessions she’s left in her car, Dara notices that she doesn’t look at her eyes; that the possessions aren’t because she thinks Dara would want or need them but because she doesn’t want to see them; she doesn’t want to be reminded of Dara. When she leaves and Dara realises that this is the end of their friendship, because neither know how to be friends now, it's real and heart-breaking.

It’s a testament to Oliver’s writing that we are able to understand the closeness of Nick and Dara’s relationship from a few past memories and little instances in these scenes sow the seeds for later developments in the book, causing an unsettling air or tension. Within this tension, we are also introduced to the disappearance of Madeline which breaks into the forefront of the main story in unexpected places. Oliver uses this dual storyline to her advantage ratcheting up the tension in the book between the sisters, between the past and the present and the loss of Madeline to create an unsettling thriller. Yet, it's also an extremely emotional drama about the loss of the relationship between two sisters who were so close they were almost one. I found Vanishing Girls both extremely emotional and unsettling. I enjoyed it so much that  I passed on my copy immediately to a friend as I needed someone else to read it so I could talk about it.
Like Oliver’s other books this is a well-written novel that will stay with you long after reading and can be read as an introduction to Oliver’s style as well as a standalone novel. I’d highly recommend trying any of Oliver’s works as she is in a class of her own, from her chilling horror book Room, to dystopia with the Delirium trilogy to this thriller in Vanishing Girls she is able to write in any genre and make it engaging, providing complex and interesting characters and themes YA readers will adore.
Rating: 5/5 Stars  ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Sarah Nuttall

Sarah is an active contributor for the YAfictionados blog site. She has written posts for the Waterstones blog and has worked as a bookseller (for 9 years), a Children's bookseller (for 6 years) and is now a manager at her local bookstore. Needless to say, Sarah is a valued member of the YAfictionados team - a true Children's and YA literature expert.