I occasionally read Young Adult literature – some of my work involves young people and I also have family members in this age group, so it’s a group I’m really interested in and I like to read books that are aimed at this age range. In fact, one of my favourite novels from last year was a YA novel – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.
This book is by the American writer Morgan Matson – this is her third novel and was published last year.
Emily is 17 and lives with her 10-year-old brother Beckett and her writer parents. Her best friend is Sloane but, right at the start of this novel, Sloane has disappeared, along with her family. Despite repeated texts and phonecalls, Emily doesn’t hear from Sloane and is devastated to have lost her best friend. But then a list turns up in the post, in Sloane’s handwriting, giving Emily 13 tasks to complete. All the tasks are things Emily would normally never do, such as kiss a stranger, go skinny-dipping and ride a horse (Emily is terrified of horses). But desperate to get a clue to where her friend may be, and hoping that the list may somehow lead her to Sloane, Emily sets about completing the tasks.
I adored this book. It is sweet and smart, yet it isn’t predictable, and the characters are really interesting. There are flashbacks every now and then so we find out more about Sloane and Emily’s friendship, and how Emily is very reliant on Sloane who comes across as the cool, confident foil to Emily’s more quiet and introspective character. It often feels that Emily just does what Sloane wants her to, as it’s easier to be passive. But as the book progresses, we find out a lot more of the real Emily, and her personality develops and her confidence grows as she carries out the various tasks and makes some new friends on the way. Being away from Sloane liberates Emily in many ways.
I thought this book was really well written, and it isn’t too predictable. I also liked that the other characters in the book are really well drawn and interesting, and everyone has a distinct personality. It is hard not to like climbing-addicted little brother Beckett and self-professed-ladies-man-but-perpetually-single Collins. My only minor criticism of the book is that all the characters’ parents are a bit too laid back (which I guess helps the story as they pretty much do as they please), and I did spot quite a lot of typos in the book which is something that annoys me.
But overall I really loved the book, and I thought it was very well and cleverly written with fantastic characters. I would definitely read more from Matson in the future.
My rating: 9 out of 10