Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Murder Month - The Leaving

I remember Bloomsbury asking if I wanted to read this, and there were two reasons why I went yes. The first was the tag line - Six were taken. Five came back" and the second was the fact that this book was described as a must for We Were Liars fans. Even the author, E. Lockhart, wrote a tiny piece for this book on the cover (you might be able to just see it...)

Eleven years ago, six five-year-olds were taken without a trace. But eleven years has passed and five of them are back. They're sixteen and they are... fine. They are dumped in a playground in the dead of night and the five have to find their way home.

Scarlett returns to a house with a mother she barely recognised. She has no memory of what happened to her the past eleven years. But she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett too - but both can't remember anything from the past eleven years. They remember nothing.

And they or any of the others remember Max - the sixth victim. He hasn't come back and everyone want answers. Including Max's sister, Avery.

This is an interesting thriller. I sped through this and found it full of twists and "Wait! What?" moments. Once I found my stride (which was very quickly), I couldn't put this book down. It remembered me very strongly of We Were Liars. Both books tackle the issue of memory and ask "Can we trust our own memory?" and "Should we trust the narrators?" - something both authors do really well.

The story is told from 3 points of view: Scarlett, Lucas and Avery. Both Scarlett and Avery have unique storytelling techniques while Avery is the most straight-forward. This is the show the difference in what the characters went through.

And it was interesting to have each character see the aftermath of the disappearances and the re-appearances for themselves, even though Avery lived through it. It makes the characters interesting and complex.

The mystery was gripping. I really wanted to know why Scarlett, Lucas and the others couldn't remember what happened to them and why they only seem to remember one image. This is what kept me going forward. I had to know! And with Tara adding more and more twists, it more I wanted to know why.

I do have problems. Two, to be precise.

The first was how certain elements of the book were tackled. These kids have been missing for eleven years and yet, barring the start of the book, the media seems to nowhere to be seen. No one had to deal with journalists banging on their front door, trying to break it, phone hacking. There was very little of something I am sure the news outlet would crave. Plus, some characters acted not how I expected when their child returns to them after eleven years. Tiny elements just felt off and not true, somehow.

The second is the resolution. It's got to split readers. Some will get it and understand. Others will not and maybe feel checked. I'm somewhere in the middle. It makes sense to me and I get it, but I wish there was something more to it. I feel like it missed something. Maybe a reread is in order so I can see if I missed clues! But like I was saying, the ending is very much a Marmite ending - you either going to love it or hate it.

Though I sense this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, I found this a gripping read and believe fans of We Were Liars will devour it!

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