Published by Walker Books Australia on April 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Psychological Thriller
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Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?
Small Spaces features an unreliable narrator with a childhood imaginary friend who haunts her in her teenage years and it’s guaranteed to give you a few scares. The writing just flowed, leaving enough to keep us guessing about the plot and whether the disturbing circumstances she was facing was truth or fiction.
Tash Turner is an unreliable narrator that is written really well – you can sense she’s constantly on edge, confused about what she sees or believes in her everyday life. As I was reading, I was constantly thinking – is she mentally ill? Is she just seeing things? Is her imaginary friend Sparrow actually real? Because she doesn’t know who to trust – we as readers suspect everyone that she interacts with, including herself. It also creeps me out that dead birds didn’t really bother her and having a hooded stalker following her around kind of seemed like the norm.
But it’s not like we pick and choose what to be afraid of. It’s like our fears pick us.
As Tash experiences flashbacks to her childhood, where she witnessed a young girl getting kidnapped by her imaginary friend, the tension consistently builds as he appears in her life again. The mystery constantly kept me guessing and I loved the psychologist interviews from the past intechanging with the present, as Tash learns to navigate her trauma. One important topic that the book covers is the reliability of psychologists – sometimes even they get it wrong, and I liked how Tash stood up to her and exercised her choice with her care. This is something I haven’t seen covered in a book before – which contributed to her childhood trauma lasting into her teenage years.
Her parent’s neglect was appalling – why would you leave your daughter at a creepy old house where she experienced her past trauma – without checking on her, or the adults that are meant to be there? I was confused as to why Tash kept on returning to her Aunt’s creepy old place and was staying there on her own, especially when all these bad things had happened there.The way her family treated her mental illness was horribly neglectful as they blamed her for being attention-seeking and making things up. I’m really glad that this was balanced with a strong friendship with Sadie, who constantly looked after Tash’s worries as well as Morgan, who was there when she needed help.
The ending was also really satisfying and believable in a way – often psychological thrillers leave me wanting, especially after all the build up but I loved how it went down in Small Spaces.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a psychological thriller that I’ve enjoyed this much, and I’m happy that it’s a #LoveOzYA as well! Creepy, thrilling, with scenes that will constantly have you questioning truth from the reality – Small Spaces had me hooked from start to finish.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Trigger warnings: child abuse, drug use, animal cruelty, mental illness
Small Spaces is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99 or on The Book Depository.
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book for review!
Whisper by Lynette Noni
Published by Pantera Press on May 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
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“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me.
I believed them. That was my mistake.
There isn’t anyone else in the world like me.
I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster.
For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four — ‘Jane Doe’ — has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.
As Jane’s resolve begins to crack under the influence of her new — and unexpectedly kind — evaluator, she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious ‘program’, discovering that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot … and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.
When a mute test subject called Jane Doe suddenly finds her routine disrupted by a kind boy called Ward, her whole world changes. Unlike the confinement in a cell and the torturous laboratory tests she’s been undergoing, he actually talks to her and treats her with kindness. What does he want from her? Is this just a trick? Whisper opens up with the core mystery: Who is Jane Doe and what do they want with her?
After reading and loving the Medoran Chronicles, I had high hopes for Whisper, but unfortunately I found it to be a fairly standard supernatural sci-fi story. If you’ve read or seen anything involving test subjects with people with special abilities and an evil corporation, it pretty much isn’t anything you haven’t seen or heard of before. There’s lots of twists and turns in the story, as we slowly find out more about Jane, where she came from and what happened in her past, along with the motivations of the people surrounding her. It takes a while to get off the ground, peaks in the middle when we find out about the heroine’s abilities, and then wanes again after this happens.
I tend to lose interest when a character has an all powerful special ability that she just naturally knows how to use, and when everyone is in awe of how incredibly special she is. That narrative runs strongly in this book which is part of the reason why I wasn’t particularly invested in Jane. I did like the concept of Speak and garnering the power of words, and how Jane could achieve anything that she wanted with her ability, as long as she learnt how to use it. My favourite scene was when she summoned a full room of animals as part of the training, which was a lot of fun! I wish we saw more of the other character’s abilities though, many of them felt like throwaway characters who didn’t have much of a personality.
I’m kind of glad that a romance didn’t evolve between the many guys who Jane encountered her, although that’s not to say that it won’t happen in a sequel. I found the love interests to be kind of irritating – first there’s Ward, who is really kind to her but obviously has an ulterior motive for doing it and was a jerk after a while. Then there’s Kael, who knows more about her than she knows herself and can’t stop calling her princess despite her pushing back. I really didn’t care enough for any of these characters unfortunately.
While I liked the concept of Whisper and the supernatural ability of speaking, there wasn’t anything unique that kept me reading. I didn’t care enough for any of the characters or for Lengard and the secret research facility. Although the book wasn’t for me, I can definitely see others enjoying it especially if you like supernatural sci-fi reads! As for me, I’ll stick to the Medoran Chronicles (which I love).
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Pantera Press for sending me a review copy, in exchange for an honest review.
Whisper is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99 and Book Depository.