‘I swore to myself I wouldn’t die that day.
Up and down
Come at me you bastard’
Everything changes in an eye blink…
It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, the same man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later she wakes up in a clearing just outside her hometown – alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the crime erased.
Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him too, though he does his best to hide the signs.
As the world around them begins to spiral towards panic and destruction the two troubled teens discover that people have been lying to them their whole lives…
What I thought
The idea of being murdered every other year on your birthday and then waking up again is a really scary one and this was one of the main things that pulled me towards this book. And those scenes were powerful and hard hitting, you felt Min’s fear of her birthday, the death that always accompanies it, and how desperate she was to not get murdered that year. But also how mad her situation is? She knows that it’s mad, that it’s unbelievable, it would be easy for her to believe what everyone, including her therapist, was telling her and that she really did have a mental health issue. But those memories and the pain burn too strongly for her to ignore it. It’s worth mentioning that Min has an inbuilt sense of mistrust towards adults and people in positions of authority so the more they tell her that it is just in her mind the more she automatically believes otherwise and the less she will tell them. Which is not what you want with a therapist, you want someone who’ll believe you and help you not someone who gets your hackles up and makes you feel uncomfortable.
Alongside her though is Tack, the brilliant and funny Tack, one the best best friends you could possibly want. He doesn’t push her for answers of why she disappears on her birthday every other year, or why she’s got a therapist. Honestly, I fell in love with Tack more than Min or Noah. He just came across as the kind of guy who would listen, agree something was SH*T and then make a joke and move on, but not forget.
I really enjoyed the way the story unraveled, it helped going into it that I knew it was the beginning of a series which meant I wasn’t looking for all the threads to be wrapped up at the end. It’s a complicated plot with a number of characters and conspiracy theories. Everyone knows a small part of it and as a reader you’re trying to work out what’s going on with only a fraction more information than the main protagonists. Every time you find something out it just brings up more questions. I didn’t see the end coming, which is great. I’m pretty sure I made an audible gasp of shock and horror when I found out but as it was still the summer I was reading in the park and didn’t get any weird looks. Although most of my office is used to me talking to my phone (because of podcasts/audiobooks) and books, so I get less weird looks now. Which is good.
The tone and the pace were really well done, everything was fast paced unless they were at school where it dragged a bit. Which is what school feels like. To begin with it feels like a stumbling point *lots is happening… oh yeah my characters are teenagers and should be in school* but once I’d worked out it was just during the periods in school I couldn’t help thinking it was clever. Because school does drag and it jars for Min that she has to keep pretending that everything is normal even though she knows that almost all of the adults in her life are lying to her.
There’s lot of dialogue and some conversations get repeated a lot but each time you learn a bit more information and it’s helpful as a reader to reset where you are just as much as the repetition helps Min to work out what’s going on.
Tonally it was dark and uncomfortable, but in the way that a shadow on the curtain is. You can ignore it but a sudden gust of wind can suddenly draw your attention to it again and your imagination can’t help but work out the worst possible scenario. It’s not in your face and you can get swept up in the mystery and ignore it but then something happens and you’re reminded just how creepy this small town in America is. The scenes with Min being murdered are scary. You really feel her fear and the anticipation of the event is just as scary as the event itself.
Finally, I also love how none of the teenagers particularly care that there is a literal earth-shattering even going to happen in the near future. It drives every adult but for them it’s so much a part of normality that they don’t bother worrying about it. It’s so easy to get used to something so big that it becomes really small.
Yes it’s going to kill them but teenagers are filled with a sense of immortality anyway. The impending death in the near-but-when future doesn’t stop them still having to do homework or continue living their lives
Why I read it
This was suggested to me by one of the members of staff in my local bookshop. I’m on first name terms with a handful of them and at the time was just busy looking through the YA section not sure what I wanted to read next. So instead of looking at my giant pile at home I asked her for some suggestions, she said she’d just finished it and really enjoyed it, so I figured why not – also it was in ‘the buy 1 get 1 half price’ offer and I was already toying with buying one other that was included in that offer.
This is why people should become friends with their local booksellers and librarians. Yes, they have to do their jobs and sell you as many books as possible but the more you get to know them the less likely they are to lead you astray and give you bad suggestions. Plus, if I tell them that I can only buy 1 they always help me cut it down.
In a rare show of events I ended up reading this one the same day I bought it, something which normally only happens if I’m in love with the author or if I pre-ordered it. Or if I finish a book earlier that morning and start reading a brand new one before I go to The Bookcase to put it away.
This is a really creepy and uncomfortable read, the horror isn’t in your face but it lurking just under the surface. You know it’s there, but you can ignore it and just take everything at face value. It was fast paced and it’s a complicated and twisted plot so it’s easy to lose where you are in the story and remember which questions have been answered, which haven’t been answered, and which answers were simply more questions.
I really enjoyed seeing how Noah and Min react differently to exactly the same situation and how they evolve to become different people and make different decisions because of it. The world building is really well done, this is a world that’s pretty much ours apart from the literal apocalyptical event in the near future that everyone knows about.
I’m really looking forward to reading the second book in this series ‘Genesis’ which I got at YALC. (Yes that was 6 months ago. As I’ve said in previous reviews I either read the whole series in one go so forget when things happen or I wait months and months before reading the next one as I get distracted)
Would I recommend? I’ve already given this one to a few people to read.
PopSugar: About mental health (but of a fudge but both protagonists are seeing a therapist)
Read Harder: First book in a YA series
What do you do when there is nothing to do in the office between Christmas and New Year – write blogs of course!
Here’s to a brilliant 2019 with plenty of books and laughter!
P.S The next book is a bit different from this one.
‘Secret Seven; The Mystery of the Skull’ by Pamala Butchart