Review: Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey


Publisher: Fremantle Press
Release date: August, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 297
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Jasmine Lovely has it all – the looks, the grades, the friends. But when a house party spins out of control, Jazz discovers what can happen when your mistakes go viral …

We know our kids are at risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying. But do we know how at risk they are of becoming perpetrators? This controversial new novel tackles cyberbullying from a whole new perspective.


4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saving Jazz is a new Aussie YA novel that tackles some of the most prevalent issues in modern day society. It explores cyberbullying, rape culture, victim blaming and the way people treat each other, especially through social media. This is a really important read, especially with the ever increasing cases of sexual assault in society today, as well as objectification of women on the internet. I was reminded of the disgusting piece of news that broke a few weeks ago in Australia about a website that men and high school boys use to exchange inappropriate pictures of high school girls that they’ve stalked and taken photos of without consent. I’m glad that this book tackles issues like these and makes it relevant to the technologically advanced society today.

The book begins with the scheme of a mother trying to rescue her daughter who has just attempted suicide. The rest of the novel is then written as a series of blog posts by Jazz, the protagonist of the book. She introduces her blog and herself by describing herself as a rapist and soon it becomes clear that she’s had something to do with the attempted suicide of the girl from the first chapter. The first half of the book has a wonderfully intriguing plot, as we try to find out what happened during the night that has since been called Greenheadgate. I enjoyed this mystery aspect of the book and found myself really immersed in the story as I tried to discover what Jazz meant by ‘rape’ and how it occurred. This first half of the book was simultaneously intriguing and disturbing at the same time. The way that these teenagers treated each other and treated themselves was quite upsetting for me. The boys in the book didn’t really see girls as anything except something that was there for their enjoyment. And the girls were equally horrible to each other. They said very vicious things about each other and didn’t really consider that these were people they were talking about. It was quite distressing to read about.

However, as important as I think this book and its message is, I had a couple of things that I didn’t really like. I found it to be a little bit problematic that the girls and victims in this novel saw cyberbullying as something that will just blow over and doesn’t need to be addressed. And in a lot of cases this might be true, but this book has a focus on cyberbullying through the posting and sharing of and commenting on nude/inappropriate pictures. I thought it was slightly problematic that these girls were not concerned about their privacy being violated as much as they were angry about being talked about. This was particularly true of the events that occurred during the night of Greenheadgate. The victim was raped and had her body violated while she was unconscious and she didn’t really seem to care about that. She doesn’t report it and seems to think that all is fine if other people don’t know about it.  I just had a bit of a problem with this aspect of the book.

I really enjoyed the blog post format of the book because it gave Jazz a very distinct voice but I felt like there wasn’t a clear timeline. There were no dates or time stamps included and it was sometimes hard for me to grasp when things had taken place. It wasn’t too much of a problem but there were parts that felt draggy and parts that just skipped over things quickly. It just made the transitions a bit awkward. I also thought that the last 100 pages of the novel dragged on and on forever. The mystery of what occurred on the night of the rape was revealed in the first half of the book and the rest is about how Jazz deals with the aftermath. Because of this, it felt like the climax and resolution of the story was towards the middle of the novel and the remainder of it just seemed unnecessarily long. There were one too many issues explored towards the end of the book and it just felt never-ending.

This was due in part to the fact that I don’t think Jazz’s character really developed all that much. While we do see her guilt and her remorse, and how the events of that one night has changed her life, I thought overall her character development was pretty stagnant. She’s given the easy way out, in my opinion. She’s sent away by her parents as part of her punishment but things start going uphill for her as a result of not being in that high school environment. She finds romantic love and familial love from her aunt and uncle who she’s staying with. She studies through distance education at home and gets a job that she likes. It all came across to me as Jazz getting her happily ever after as a result of her punishment, and not really because she grew a lot as a person.

I definitely enjoyed the first half of the novel a lot more than the second half but overall, despite some problems that I had with the plot, I thought this was a book with really important messages that are very relevant to the world today.


Aussie YA Blog Hop

Aussie YA Blog Hop Banner

This week the Aussie (and NZ) YA Bloggers group is doing a blog hop to highlight some awesome #LoveOzYA books and why we love Aussie YA! The moderators of the group are hosting this fun blog hop and I’m so excited to be joining in. The blog hop runs from August 8 – 14 and there will also be a Twitter chat on Sunday 14th at 6pm AEST.

1. What you love about Aussie YA

My favourite thing about Aussie YA is the relatability aspect. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a story set in my home city of Sydney, and being able to recognise the places that are talked about. There’s a feeling of familiarity and It makes it easier to connect with the story and the characters. I also feel like Aussie YA novels are much more honest. They’re often grittier and darker and explore issues that matter, including diverse issues.

2. Favourite Aussie YA authors

I’ve always loved The Book Thief and Markus Zusak has always been one of my favourite authors. But there have been some wonderful authors that I’ve discovered in the past 12 months. I love Jaclyn Moriarty and her storytelling ability and her characters. I think her books are absolutely wonderful. I also really love Jessica Shirvington (despite having only read her Disruption duology).

3. The Aussie YA book that you grew up with

The two Aussie YA books that I distinctly remember reading when I was a younger reader were Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca and of course, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

4. Favourite Aussie YA book released in 2016

Wow. It’s so hard for me to narrow down my Aussie YA favourites! I have so many that I’ve loved from this year! I’ll try to narrow it down to 3 books. I absolutely loved The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard, A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

5. Aussie YA debut you are looking forward to

I’m really, really excited about Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Not only does it have a beautiful cover, it also has a synopsis that sounds right up my alley. It’s been touted as a John Green meets Rainbow Rowell story so I’m definitely going to be picking it up when it’s released.

6. Favourite Aussie YA series

I don’t typically read a lot of series because contemporary is my favourite genre, so I mostly read standalones. But there are two Aussie YA series that I’m absolutely in love with. The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my all-time favourites because of its creativity and magical plot. The third and final book, A Tangle of Gold, is one of my favourite books of 2016 so far. I also really love the Disruption duology by Jessica Shirvington, which I’ve already mentioned above!

7. Unexpected Aussie YA surprise

I’m not really sure if I’d call this one a surprise because it’s a contemporary and had a plot which didn’t include any tropes that I hate. I knew going into Frankie by Shivaun Plozza that I would like it but I was completely unprepared for how much I would love it! It was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed all of the characters and their relationships.

8. Aussie YA book you always recommend to others

One novel that I’ve been recommending to others since I read it back in early 2015 is The Flywheel by Erin Gough. It’s a beautiful LGBTQIA+ book that features very relatable characters and a realistic lesbian romance. It’s set in the inner west of Sydney and I loved the setting so much.

9. An Aussie YA book on your TBR

I have so many Aussie YA novels on my shelf right now but one that I think I’ll be reading relatively soon is One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn. Claire is going to be a guest at the #YABookmeet, hosted by Dymocks Sydney in early September so I’ll be picking it up soon. I also hope to read Ellie Marney’s Every trilogy in upcoming weeks because I now finally own all three books and can binge this trilogy of Sherlock retellings.

10. Recommend your favourite Aussie YA bloggers

How do I even choose?!! There are so many Aussie bloggers that I’ve gotten to know and I don’t want to leave anybody out T_T. Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. I love Jeann @ Happy Indulgence, because she’s amazing (and I also co-blog there HAHA). I love Aentee @ Read at Midnight, who is my blog twin and food partner in crime. I also love my NZ blogger friend CW @ Read Think Ponder, who is back from her hiatus! I also love Cait @ Paper Fury, Chiara @ Delicate Eternity, Emily @ Loony Literate.

Click here to Follow the blog hop and check out the other posts through the linky on Happy Indulgence!

Wrap Up: March 2016


Welcome to my 200th post! Can you believe I’ve posted 200 times on this blog? I’m super proud to say that 120 of those posts were book reviews because I love sharing my opinions and spreading the love. I’ve also done 39 Top Ten Tuesday posts… so I guess the remaining 40 posts are wrap ups, hauls and tags.

I did pretty well this month with my reading. I did feel a little bit slumpy in the middle of the month and I wasn’t reading as much at that time. But I came home strongly and did a lot of reading during the Easter break. I read 17 books this month and I’ve completed half of my 2016 Goodreads challenge already. Right now, I’m about 26 books ahead so I’ll probably end up increasing my goal this year. I was also in a blogging slump this month. I usually review almost every book that I read, and this month… well, you can probably see how many I actually reviewed from the lack of review links down below…


Reading summary header

1. What I Saw – Beck Nicholas  3 stars

An Aussie YA book about alcohol-fuelled violence that focused too much on the romance and not enough on the issues that it needed to explore. It was middle of the road for me.

2. The Yearbook Committee – Sarah Ayoub  4 stars

A lovely novel set in Sydney that focuses on friendships and the bonds that can be created between people who are very different. This book is written from five different perspectives, but it never felt like there was too much going on.

3. The Sidekicks – Will Kostakis  45 stars

This is another Aussie YA novel that focuses on friendship and grief. The book is about three boys who shared the same best friend and what happens when that best friend passes away. It’s a really short book that packs quite a punch.

4. Dirty Rowdy Thing – Christina Lauren  35 stars

I read Sweet Filthy Boy, the first novel in this companion series, last month and wasn’t that big of a fan. But I decided to give Dirty Rowdy Thing a go because everybody seems to love these books and I wanted to see if it could change my opinion. And… again, it was good but not great. I’m not sure that I’ll continue with Book 3 but these are great NA books if you’re feeling slumpy.

5. Trouble – Non Pratt  2 stars

This book is about teen pregnancy and I couldn’t really connect with the story or the characters. I was just really frustrated with the characters and the author’s writing style. I’m glad that I read it but it wasn’t anything special.

6. Iron to Iron – Ryan Graudin  45 stars

This is a novella that follows one of the side characters from Wolf by Wolf. It was wonderfully written and if you enjoyed Wolf by Wolf, you’ll enjoy this novella. If you haven’t read Wolf by Wolf, I would definitely deter you from reading this novella until you’ve read Wolf by Wolf because it will ruin your reading experience of that novel.

7. Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare  45 stars

I was so excited to have a new Shadowhunters book in my hand but I wasn’t sure that I’d enjoy this one because I wasn’t a big fan of Emma Carstairs or Julian Blackthorn when I met them in City of Heavenly Fire. But this book was SO GOOD! Everything was wonderful, besides the very last part of the book, which had one of my most hated tropes… It was the only reason why I took off half a star.

8. Prince’s Gambit – C.S. Pacat  35 stars

This is the second book in the Captive Prince trilogy. I didn’t really see what all the hype was… I thought this book was just a little bit better than average. I liked the characters and the romance but the actual plot of the book was kind of lacking. I had a hard time remembering who everybody was and even though there was lots of political intrigue and strategy, I had a hard time following it all because it wasn’t very well-developed.

9. Kings Rising – C.S. Pacat  4 stars

This is the final book in the Captive Prince trilogy and it was better than the first two books. I still thought the plot was a little weak but overall, I enjoyed it a lot more.

10. Identity – Milan Kundera  3 stars

This was a book that I started reading about 7 years ago but never finished. I finally picked it back up this month and it was really good. I just wasn’t really in the mood for literary fiction and I think I could have enjoyed it more if I had really spent the time trying to delve deeper into story and the messages.

11. Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard  2 stars

This book had me shaking my head so hard. It’s a book about friendship and I just did not enjoy it at all because I disliked all of the characters and thought the friendship was a very unhealthy one. The main character is highly frustrating and ignorant and I just wanted to slap her across the face.

12. The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman  4 stars

This is a bind-up of the two volumes of Maus by Art Spiegelman. It’s about Spiegelman’s father’s story and how he survived the Holocaust. The story was very meta – it followed not only his father’s story but also the story of how Art learnt about what happened from his father. While I enjoyed that aspect of the book, I also didn’t really like it because I found Art very dislikeable. I probably would have liked the graphic novel a lot more if it was just about WWII and the Holocaust.

13. The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith  2 stars

This is a story about rape and the main character’s struggle to deal with what happened. This book is split into four parts and each part follows one year in the MC’s high school life. I really didn’t like this book at all. It’s basically a story about self-destruction and we just see the MC be increasingly nasty to everyone around her until she hits rock bottom. I couldn’t connect with her or her story and didn’t find it to be emotional at all. The book had no effect on me and I couldn’t really see what messages the author was trying to convey.

14. The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig  4 stars

This was a really fun time travel book. I really enjoyed the characters and the romance that was in the book. It was a really quick read and I thought it was great. The only thing that I struggled with was some of the time travel aspects. I didn’t think the rules were set out very well and I had a little bit of a hard time following some of the logic of the story.

15. Love is the Higher Law – David Levithan  4 stars

I love David Levithan’s writing and this was another wonderful book. This book follows three people’s experiences with 9/11 and how it affected them at the time and afterwards. As someone who was really young and half a world away when 9/11 happened, I really appreciated being able to see the impact that it had on New Yorkers and how the event continues to stay with people.

16. Frankie – Shivaun Plozza  5 stars

This was a really amazing Aussie YA debut novel about disadvantaged youths. It was a beautiful coming of age story, with a fantastic set of characters and writing that everybody can relate to. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read more by Shivaun.

17. This is Where the World Ends – Amy Zhang  3 stars

This novel was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. It started off as one thing and then quickly morphed into something that I wasn’t completely expecting. The book had lots of great messages about rape and sexual assault and I enjoyed the plot. However, I was disappointed with the characterisation and didn’t really like the two protagonists. I just couldn’t connect with them enough to give this book more than a 3 out of 5. A review of this will be up next week.


The Chimes – Anna Smaill

While the writing in this book was undoubtedly beautiful, it was much too flowery and purple for me to get into the story. The syntax was strange and there were so many big words that I didn’t know the meaning of that I pretty much was just skimming over the text. I pride myself on my wide range of vocabulary, and to read a book that made me consult a dictionary every second page… was just not enjoyable. I just didn’t understand what I was reading so I DNFed this at 30%.


I posted 5 Top Ten Tuesday posts in March:

Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub


Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: February 22, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
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Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?


4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Yearbook Committee is the new release of Aussie author, Sarah Ayoub. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party in Sydney and have Sarah sign my copy of the book! The Yearbook Committee is a wonderful depiction of high school life in the inner west of Sydney. It’s written from the perspectives of five very different students who all attend an elite private school, and are thrown together to create the 2016 yearbook. Working together forces them to learn new things about themselves and the world, and create new bonds that will last forever.

This is very much a character-driven novel. I loved our core cast of characters and I thoroughly enjoyed following them on their journeys of self-development. We have Charlie, the smart and outspoken feminist of the group, who is determined to hate Sydney after being forced to move from Melbourne with her mum and stepdad. She quickly finds herself clashing with Ryan, the school captain, who is struggling to find himself after an accident causes him to lose the thing that defined him and his future. Also part of the yearbook committee is Tammi, the popular girl’s best friend, who doesn’t have any control over her own life. She’s pushed around by her best friend, her boyfriend and her father, and isn’t allowed to be who she wants to be. We also have the politician’s daughter, Gillian, who struggles with the spotlight that’s always on her and her family. She is constantly criticised and bullied because of her public presence. And finally, there’s Matty, the scholarship kid who doesn’t really fit in with the rich kids who attend the school. He works multiple jobs while he waits for his mother to snap out of her breakdown. But it’s been months and she doesn’t seem to be getting better…

Despite there being five different perspectives, I enjoyed all of them and how different each character was. Their personalities definitely come through in the writing and their voices. Their voices were distinct and it never felt like they were the same person. I also liked the multiple perspectives because I thought it was extremely interesting to see what they thought of each other, and how it differed to how I viewed them, especially at the beginning. I also appreciated that the book was never repetitive, despite having so many perspectives. It wasn’t the same story written from the points of view of five different people; it was five different stories that converged into one.

On either side of me, Gillian and Matty reach out and grab a hand each, like guardian angels. And the tears give way to a smile, because I finally feel my worth for the first time in ages.

I loved the friendships that formed in the book. The five committee members start off as strangers and I loved being about to see them forming bonds and opening up to each other, especially because some of the characters didn’t really have any friends prior to being on the committee. I loved how much the characters were able to learn from each other and that they were able to use these new experiences to further develop their own identity. There were some time skips in the book, which at times made it difficult to see the full development of the friendships, but it never felt like things were happening too quickly or suddenly. I thought the author used the formatting of the book superbly to fill in the gaps. There were detailed notes about each committee meeting that helped fill the holes in our knowledge and I really liked those pages.

Who knew that after all those meetings, the five of us would not only accomplish what we set out to do but become better people just by knowing and learning from each other?

Besides the characters coming together as a result of working on the yearbook, there is actually very little focus on the yearbook itself. We don’t really see the characters work on it very much, which I actually preferred because the characters’ personal stories and journeys were so captivating. I enjoyed everything that I read. Everything felt realistic and the depiction of high school life was so accurate that I couldn’t help but connect with everyone’s stories. There were a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little bit more. I kind of felt like I was left hanging about a couple of things that happened at the end of the book, but I didn’t mind the open endings that much because life goes on.

This is a wonderful Australian YA novel that I can confidently recommend to everybody. It’s completely relatable and has a cast of fantastic characters that will capture your heart from the very beginning.

Review: The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

The Stars at Oktober Bend | FRONT COVER (20 October 2015)

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: January 27, 2016
Format: Paperback (RRP: $19.99)
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
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Alice Nightingale writes about how it is to have perfect thoughts that come out in slow, slurred speech. She imagines herself stepping into clear midair with wings made of words and feathers.

Manny James runs at night, trying to escape memories of his past. He sees Alice on the roof of her river house, looking like a figurehead on a ship sailing through the stars. He has a poem in his pocket and he knows the words by heart. He is sure that girl has written them.

Alice longs to be everything a fifteen-year-old girl can be. And when she sees the running boy she is anchored to the earth by the desire to see him again.


45 stars

How do I even begin to find the words to express how much this book meant to me? This was an absolutely beautiful story about overcoming adversity and living with hope and courage. It’s a simple story that is just done so right.

This novel follows 15 year old Alice, who struggles with her speech after a traumatic incident that happened when she was 12. As a result, she doesn’t go to school and spends most of her time writing poetry, fly tying and trying not to do anything that will lead to seizures. She starts leaving her poetry and ‘perfect thoughts’ in public places for people to read, but nobody has ever taken her seriously until Manny James stumbles upon her poem at the railway station. Manny was a child soldier in Sierra Leone. He’s adjusting to his new life and new family in Australia, after losing his family, and Alice and her poetry quickly becomes his salvation.

The first thing you’ll notice when you flip open this book is the writing style. This book has a very unique writing style, with strange syntax and punctuation. Alice ‘s voice is incredibly unique and can take a while to get used to. I had a little bit of a hard time getting my mind to focus during the first couple of pages, but I quickly realised how lyrical and beautiful the writing was. Because of this, I decided to read the entire book aloud and it really helped me to get into the writing style and Alice’s voice very quickly. The weird syntax and lack of capital letters in the writing really reflected Alice’s character and I really appreciated the way the book was written. This novel is written partly in prose and partly in verse. Sometimes it switches without warning and others in a more logical manner. I adored this format and thought it added a lot to the story. It made Alice’s voice truly her own. We also get to read from Manny’s perspective in this book, and his chapters were written much more traditionally, in prose and with proper syntax and punctuation. I thought his voice also reflected who he was as a person and I loved being able to read from his point of view as well.

for some
twelve is a nice number
but i
am alice
fifteen times

All of the characters in this book were outstanding but my favourite was definitely Alice. She went through a traumatic experience that nobody should have to go through, and to some people around her, she will always be the 12 year old girl she was before the incident. But even though her life changed when she was 12, and some of her abilities are stunted, she keeps trying to grow and prove that she’s more than what happened to her at 12. Her strength moved me to tears and her bravery just left me speechless.

he had listened to fragments of my stumbling speech and begged me to speak again. his wanting to listen made no difference to my speech. it was no clearer, quicker or more fluent. my words did not sound like birdsong or poetry, but manny watched me and waited while i spoke. asked me when he didn’t understand.

My favourite aspect of this book were the relationships. The way that the characters cared for and cared about each other was just amazing to witness. The relationship between Alice and Manny transcended just teenage romance. The discovery of somebody who you can share your darkest secrets with, and somebody who will listen and try to understand you is just the most heartwarming thing, and I felt so lucky to be able to read about Alice and Manny finding each other the way that they did. Their connection and attraction did feel a little bit too instant, but I didn’t even care because they’re absolutely made for each other.

While the relationship between Alice and Manny was stellar, it was Alice’s relationship with her brother, Joey, that was my favourite. To see Joey, a young teenager himself, be so protective and supportive towards Alice… I just could not stop crying. To see him take on the role of being the man of the house, and look after Alice and his ailing grandmother, I really felt for him. His love for his family and for Alice was so evident from the first chapter and I wished that I had Joey as my brother.

The plot of this book is simple. The author doesn’t try to do anything complicated and, instead, focuses on and explores the strength of the characters and the bonds between them. I really appreciated the simplicity of it and the way the author was still able to give me a good case of the feels. This was a fantastic new Australian YA novel that I cannot recommend highly enough.

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.