Following a terrible tragedy that leaves her once-perfect family shattered, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity.
But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice Parrie her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. Alice’s joie de vivre is transformative; it helps Katherine forget her painful past and slowly, tentatively, Katherine allows herself to start enjoying life again.
But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel.
And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice - she doesn’t like being cast off
Before I go any further than that one word, I want to comment that I sort of wish I hadn't read this book, not because it was bad, oh, it was fantastic, but because it broke my heart, had me crying, had me scared and is such an emotional book. (I hate things that get me emotional, I hate the feeling of sadness, it isn't a release for me.)
The book starts with the line; "I didn't go to Alice's funeral", a phrase that grips you already, because we sort of already know the ending and I won't lie. I was gripped from the beginning, gripped at the end, though there were some bits in between that didn't really grab me but this didn't really detract from the novel as a whole.
The story is told in three time frames, we have 15 year old Katherine telling the story of her sister's death, 17 year old Katherine and the main events of the book and 22/23 year old Katherine in the future, giving a retrospective view. Though at some points this chrono-skipping disrupted the novel, it was well written mostly.
James has written some fantastic characters, and some not so fantastic ones. Alice is toxic and malicious but thats about all she is. James tried to make her 3-dimensional by having her jump from extremes but to me, all she is is a nasty bad guy. Katherine is lovely, believable but maybe too much so, I liked her character as I was meant to and I felt her emotions, even crying at some points but I never really loved her. Then theres Robbie. he's sweet, kind and loving and under Alice's spell, he has to be my fave, as he is just lovely! I didn't really love Mick, but his story still broke my heart.
The storyline contains enough twists and turns to keep a reader going, though a discerning reader could figure some of them out pretty easy. The book mixes between psychological, romance and thriller, but most of all, since its contemporary it's relateable.
I'd like to point out that this book is not easy to read. It contains themes such as bereavement, murder, more murder, more bereavement, rape and teenage pregnancy. It's a difficult read if you're emotional.
I loved it. So much, but I'll never read it again just because it makes me so emotional!
Overall rating: A-
Stand alone/series: Stand alone
Released: July 1st 2010 (Paperback)
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Book obtained via: Bought