Miri, Soleil, and Penny are obsessed with a YA author, Fatima Ro and her book The Undertow. They drag their new friend Jonah to a book signing.
Miri is especially obsessed, fanatical even, and they plan to be the last to have their books signed so they can strike up a conversation and basically become her new best friends. Miri unequivocally believes that what happens to Jonah later is not Fatima's fault.
Soleil wants to be a writer herself and documents every step of their new friendship with the author. At first she loves having the access - she and Fatima talk via email regularly. But when is all said and done, Soleil is furious at how she feels Fatima manipulated all of them, and unlike Miri, she holds the author responsible for what happens to Jonah.
Then there is Penny, the party girl. Not a whole lot going on, it would appear, but she wants so badly to fit in and for Fatima to talk to her the way she does the other girls, and Jonah. Fatima always asks for the four teens to be open and honest and completely transparent with her. When Jonah's secret is revealed, Penny feels guilty for her part in revealing it.
Jonah has recently transferred to their school and gradually becomes part of their friend group. But he has a secret and it will ultimately lead to events no one saw coming (except I did, though it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book).
Throughout the book as the story slowly unspools, the teens are drawn deeper and deeper into Fatima's orbit. They hang out together at her house, she randomly shows up at their school, they start a book club that becomes almost cult-like, they hang out at the coffee shop, they're always together.
Fatima is supposed to be hard at work on her follow-up novel. Gradually, it becomes obvious she is using them as material for the book that she has been struggling to get out. The teens don't see it that way, especially Miri. After Jonah is attacked and left in a coma, everything falls apart and Soleil and Penny recognize what has happened to them.
I absolutely loved this book. I am always intrigued by a story that is told in a unique way and this one defintiely fits the bill. I feel like the whole concept was so well-executed with how the material was laid out. Through Soleil's journal entires and emails with Fatima, interviews of all three girls by a journalist, and excerpts of Fatima's new book based on the four, we get the entire story and it was so addictive. I could not put the book down. Despite the constantly shifting material, it was not difficult to follow and made for such an engaging read.
The three girls are interviewed individually by the journalist and each has a unique, clear voice. Each had their own point of view and it was clear who was speaking when. I loved the way the events were told in the interviews, and then an excerpt from Fatima's new book followed, showing how she chose to write the scenes.
Fatima inspires cult-like behavior in Miri especially. She talks extensively about her theory of human connections, and as an outsider it is clear how manipulative she is from the start. I think this is a really interesting exploration of the influence of celebrities on teens/young adults specifically. And even my age - because everyone knows how much I love Dan Jones, and how I will read every book he writes forever and ever until the end of time.
Fatima is a young adult herself, in her early twenties and this kind of genius as she claims she wants to connect with them, and for them to be totally honest with one another. But it is pretty much a one-way straight and nothing Fatima says comes across as genuine. I feel like with the pressure she was under to get her second book done, she kept digging and digging until she found the thing to base her book on - and she found that once she learned Jonah's secret. It seems that it was always her intention from the start to use whatever she could get from them. Jonah just happened to provide her with a massive plot twist, which ended up landing him in the hospital once The Absolution of Brady Stevenson, her long awaited second book, is pubished.
As an aside, I can't reveal the secret because it would ruin the book. It will be obvious once you read the book for yourself.
I highly, highly recommend this one. The format is clever, the story addictive, and while it is not a fast-paced thriller, it will keep you turning pages until you finally figure out what has truly occurred.
I'm not a big YA fan in general but this one sounds like a winner.ReplyDelete
I really loved it, it was great! I am pretty picky about my YA and I am so glad I took a chance on this one!Delete
I don't read much YA anymore but this one sounds great! I'll be checking my library for it!ReplyDelete
YAY!! Let me know what you think when you get around to reading it!Delete