March 10, 2014

Reviewing... [59] Young, Gifted & Dead.

I think this’ll be a bit of a book where I recall also how I read. How for a large proportion I was sat on a long train, needing the out-of-order toilet. Even if the toilet hadn’t been would I necessarily have been able to tear myself away? St Jude’s sinks it’s claws into you, with its deceit & mysterious airs, which extent well beyond murder.
Intrigued? (Not about the toilet!)

Reviewing... [59]

Source: One of the Christmas presents I helpfully got myself for family to give ;)
Publisher: Macmillan
Author: Lucy Carver
Genre Recommendations: People who like to overlook how weird a cover may look... I mean, the more I looked at it. I'll always love the affect in the glasses though ;)

Also, it's a hidden gem so I recommend it for that reason. It doesn't have hype... it needs reviews, sure as anything.

I definitely don’t regret buying this (cos that’s essentially what happened). The beautiful thing was that although the school is elite we feel like it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be & lots of the students don’t want it to be like that. Boarding schools work both ways- it’s up to the author. Do they want the children to act like the sun shines out their backside cos of their parents occupation? They’re still upper class but... not totally spoilt. I feel like here they have the intelligence to know better & Alyssa thinks she’s an outsider but... no. Blurb, no. Alyssa doesn’t feel elite but she’s fantastic & I love this book for how we pick up on her thoughts in such a lovely and true-to-life way. She fits in & doesn’t really let it cross her mind. She’s OK if she has to walk around school on her own! She’ll do it in style. Girl got a sense of humour, brownie points for the witty, abrasive attitude (it’s not OTT though, we still like her). Can you tell that I think I’m acquiring a fictional BFF? XD

Sure, she’s being a detective but at the heart of it it’s because a) she cares about Lily & all the other people it affects b) she’s very clever. Even with the supreme intelligence, she’s like many teenage girls. She’s mature, comes across as down-to-earth and her relationships with peers & facilitators alike are awesome to read about. Jack can’t stop her figuring it out & unlike many protagonists, she isn’t too distracted by her love life. She doesn’t completely ditch him and they’re a nice couple but when she’s on a mission which other priorities... Alyssa remembers it & follows through. We’d be OK if saving the world was left to her in a YA book, not some girl attached to a clingy guy. Jack cares about her but... he doesn’t control her.
She doesn’t beat around the bush even though it takes a long while to come out... Who killed her roommate?
We want to discover straight away. Is it the obvious? As she explores the likelihood of different suspects it could be confusing but the hints and twists blend together harmoniously. There’s also different themes, some pop up quite far into the novel. Yet, it’s not that strange for the reader, in my opinion. It’s just not necessarily what you’d have guessed. So yes, YG&D leaves you hanging and when it’s wrapped up it’s with such style. Debut novel, Carver? Seriously...
Oh and, on that point, I’m SO surprised it gets a sequel (I’ve just seen that). Does it need one? I’m not sure it does. I loved the book but I think it would be drawn out to have another book in the same series. Some have marked it as to-read though... It worked as a standalone, truly! It was more refreshing that way...
I’m a bit disappointed now that they expect us to read a sequel. It’s optional though, as you guessed- there’s no cliffhanger... (more on the ending).

It helps, of course, that Alyssa has a photographic memory but not as much as you’d first anticipate. It allows clues to link up better but it’s not the total overly convenient character trait you may just have imagined... You get used to her flashbacks as well, in time. It may seem weird, especially at first, how its changed from just what was happening but that’s apparently how Alyssa’s brain works; it’s consistent & understandable- even though my normal brain wouldn’t comprehend it that started happening IRL ;)

As I said, a part of me is recalling when I read it (at the end of January) but well... Kudos. It's quite funny how it reminds me of a journey. I think I'd associate this with a journey anyway. All the movement coming to life, it'd be a fabulous play or something to watch. But yes, my real life train journey wasn't going anywhere & wasn't fast. This book was. It takes you places, it shows you people, it's a puzzle being solved.
Despite reading around 3 weeks ago (time of writing) I still am clear on the bits that worked, which is most of it. If there were issues they have been mostly been forgotten.
I feel like I should mention it, slightly spoilery way tho (I’ll mention no names!)... Another character died and in some way, you’d think Alyssa would get more clues from this & also be thinking about that. She didn’t act half as upset about the second death. She was closer to Lily but still- isn’t all death tragic? You can’t think that not much has changed (except now she gets a bit tiresome- worried she’ll die now!) even if it’s the second. It gives her, if I recall, one more clue. As an author I’m not sure I’d have done that... It seemed wasted, plus it wasn’t a character I cared about as much so it didn’t heighten my emotions. /spoiler finished
I was just glad by the end: Murderers have been dealt with, other people in her life left a little more satisfied. I mean, I’d like The Tyrant to be shot or something but... it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon, I know that. Anna & Lily’s brother (though not at first) are much more likeable & help along the way...

Amy Bookworm (@Amy_Bookworm)rated this book:

Thanks for checking this out... now you need to get yourself to that bookstore, like I did. Or y'know, stay on your sofa but say hello to Amazon etc.
~Amy Bookworm x ~

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