Review: Risk by Fleur Ferris


Publisher: Random House Australia
Release date: June 30, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN13: 9780857986474
Pages: 279
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Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants? From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends.

So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.

But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would.

One day. Two days. Three . . .

What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?

When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.

Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time?
Or should she be looking for a killer?


2 stars

Risk is the August pick for #bookclubaus, so I decided to pick it up so that I could join the twitter chat, which is taking place August 28 (tonight!) at 7:30pm AEST.

This is a novel that deals with a very important topic in society today, which is online safety. It raises awareness about the dangers of meeting people online because they may not be who you think they are. It also deals with grief and survivor’s guilt. I think online safety is definitely a topic or issue that teens should be made aware of, and I appreciate that the author tried to target this book to a younger audience who might be susceptible to the charms of online predators. However, I had quite a few issues with the book.

I had a very hard time connecting with the characters from the very first page. The characters are 15 year olds, but they felt very juvenile and immature in their behaviour and the way they spoke. They seemed to be falling in love with everyone they saw, and I didn’t enjoy that at all. Taylor goes from being completely uninterested in the guy they met online to imagining herself married to him within the span of just a couple of pages. It irked me because I think even 15 year olds have more sense than that. A lot of teenage drama did get left behind after Sierra went missing and the book turned more serious, but we still see glimpses of it throughout the book. Most of the side characters were underdeveloped. I wanted to know about their experiences and feelings on the situation, but I felt like their main role in the novel was to create conflict in Taylor’s life.

I was not a fan of Taylor or Sierra. Sierra was portrayed as someone who was very unlikeable, even to her friends, so it was a little bit difficult for me to even care about what happened to her. I liked Taylor a little bit more than Sierra, but her thoughts and feelings fluctuated a lot and it was just hard to be in her head. She seemed to disregard the feelings of those around her and justified all of her actions and decisions by saying that Sierra would have loved it/thought it was glamorous, or that Sierra would want her to be happy. I thought Taylor was a very frustrating protagonist and I didn’t feel like her character went through very much development. She compares herself to Sierra throughout the whole book and by the end of it, I wasn’t really sure how she had grown as a person.

I was also not very impressed with the plot. I had gone into the book knowing that it wasn’t going to be a thriller but the story fell short for me in terms of where it went. Most of it was very predictable and it didn’t feel like a very original story. I also didn’t like the romance that was in the book. I thought it was unnecessary and I would have much preferred it if the book had focused on friendship and supporting each other through grief.

The style of writing was also a little bit of an issue for me. The writing felt very basic and was composed of too many short sentences. I felt like it was too direct. Instead of discovering for myself what was happening, I was just being told the main messages of the book and what Taylor was thinking and feeling. I’m not opposed to simple writing if it’s used effectively, but I thought the writing in Risk was too assertive and was almost telling me what I should be thinking and feeling. I think it just goes back to the “show, don’t tell” rule that we learn in school.

I’m glad that this book is out there and I do think that teenagers should read it to learn more about internet safety because what happened to Sierra in the book could happen to anyone. But while I did like the message in this book and the awareness it raises, I thought it was a little bit of a missed opportunity.


4 thoughts on “Review: Risk by Fleur Ferris

  1. cwreads says:

    Your review seems to address a lot of the things I don’t generally like in books. Especially when teenagers are written as completely clueless and incapable of higher reasoning. I mean, some kids are silly, but it’s because they’re more than often naive/indignant about something than stupid. This sounds like a problem novel that was too focused on the problem and neglected other areas of the book. Hmm, I might give this book a miss.

    Great review though Jenna, and thanks for the headsup!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I think all of the negative aspects of the book kind of overshadowed the positive parts. But if there isn’t enough character and story development to drive the message home, I could’ve easily picked up a pamphlet on online safety and learnt the same things.

      I absolutely hate when teenagers are portrayed as shallow and clueless beings. In a book with a serious message, I think it’s important to be able to connect and relate to the characters. Otherwise I’m going to end up thinking that it’s not going to happen to me because I’m not as juvenile and silly.


  2. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    I agree, the characters in this book were so unrealistic. So OK, I was not worldly at the tender age of 15, but I at least knew not to let my friend run off with some stranger on the internet? Nor was I so obsessed with boys and looks? I heard that the author worked for the police force initially. that might explain the dry, detached style of writing.


    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      When I was 15, I think I was too obsessed with fictional/anime boys to run off with a stranger… Or even bother meeting strangers online.

      And I agree that it was totally unrealistic! No matter how much I liked him I wouldn’t spend the night, especially during the first meeting. *rages*


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