When you set out for revenge, dig two graves
Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.
When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
I received a proof copy of the novel courtesy of (then) Mira Ink / HQ Stories in exchange for an honest review.
How do I even begin to describe this book? It was mind-blowingly remarkable. I’d easily place it in the best few books I have ever had the chance to read.
It was so broad in the topics which it covered, wrapped in so many plot-twists I had NOT seen coming – I honestly spent the whole book trying to figure out what was going to happen next, I don’t think I have come across a book which had me guessing for the entirety of it in a very long time. It covered a wide range of issues teenagers in present-day society face on a daily basis in an incredibly genuine way, the book was incredibly dark at parts, so much so that my heartstrings still ache thinking about it, but it also had spells of happiness and metaphorical sunshine – and isn’t that a realistic representation of life?
The characters were absolutely perfectly written and fleshed-out, it felt like I was there with them the entire time; as though they were actual people I knew. Huge kudos to Skuse for getting the teenage voice to sound as authentic as it did; all the while making sure that the reader felt engaged with their lives and everything that happened within them. I also found that the friendships within this book were exceptionally realistic, Skuse showed both the ups and the downs of teenage relationships in a really beautiful and thought-provoking way.
I could not put it down, so of course I read it in pretty much one sitting and still cannot shake the feelings with which it left me. I was/am incredibly hung up on the ending, it was the PERFECT conclusion, and by now, most of you should realise that I do not take or say those words lightly. It concluded the story in a way that had me sitting there in complete shock (whilst crying, because multitasking of that sort is a thing that is possible apparently). If I were to choose an appropriate image to summarise my expression upon reading the last sentence it’d be this:
It would be hard to describe the full impact of the ending without spoiling anything, but I would definitely say that it was as unpredictable as it was amazing.
I have no complaints about this book whatsoever and while this was my first read of Skuse’s novels, it is definitely not going to be the last for I am incredibly curious as to the quality of her other books in comparison to this one, and man, did she set the bar high.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
(I’d give it 6 if I could)
“What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”
-The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas.