Title: The Sham
Author: Ellen Allen
Release date: September 7th 2014
Genre: Mature YA Thriller
Source: Copy for review
When love leads to death, be careful who you trust...
Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods.
Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn't need another dead body.
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS UNSUITABLE FOR YOUNGER TEENAGE READERS. IT DEPICTS ADULT SITUATIONS, MURDER SCENES, CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SEX AND PROFANITY.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The idea for this book came to me in an nightmare. . .It was so vivid that I imagined I was 17 again, at school, in the same group of 4 friends that I used to hang around with. We were involved in a murder and cover-up. I started writing partly as a way to get it out of my head and then the characters turned into real people. . .and Emily and Jack were born.
As some of the early reviewers have stated, it is quite extreme in chapter one, and necessarily so. This is the incident that sets up the whole book; something awful happens that sets off a train of events for the characters. This book is a mystery in two ways in that we're: 1) trying to find out who killed Emily's classmate; and 2) trying to work out who Jack is. I hope you enjoy it!
The Sham will pull you in and won't let go until the very end. A tautly written mystery thriller, this novel kept me guessing until I didn't know which way was up and which was down. I wanted to know who Jack really was, who the murderer was, how many girls were going to end up dead before the killer was found, and how Emily was going to deal with all of it. Needless to say, this novel had me in knots with anticipation for the ending.
I'm completely stunned as to how this novel is Allen's debut - she writes with a fresh new voice and took on what I believe to be a difficult genre to write in. The story is dream-like where sometimes I wasn't sure if things were really happening or if there was another explanation. It's difficult to describe this book without giving anything away - the plot is so intricately woven that I have no idea if something that seems small and insignificant can actually turn out to be a key piece of evidence in the long run.
That's the beauty of this novel - I didn't know if clues being dropped in front of me were obvious answers to putting the puzzle together. The characters were described in a way to where I felt like while I knew them, I also didn't REALLY know them. I don't know what I would have done if faced with the same situation Emily found herself in the beginning - the situation that is the starting point for everything that comes after. While I wished she had done more, I can understand why she didn't.
The ending. Wow. I never saw it coming - completely shocking and it isn't often I can say that. While there are parts of The Sham that will definitely make you uneasy, this is a thriller that will have you breathless to find out what happens next. You really can't afford to miss out on this crazy ride of a reading experience.
I've just finished writing my first book, so I've been busy trying to work out how all the pieces fit together - the planning, the plot, the rules, the imagination, the characters, the grammar, the structure, the endgame. . .there's too much stuff to remember and a lot of the information that I've discovered online about how to write isn't that good or even well written (the irony in reading advice on writing that isn't well written...)
So I decided I needed to find somewhere to store the good stuff. Then it occurred to me that other people might find it useful, too. So here it is. My online reference tool of all the useful (i.e. good) advice for writers-to-be. I only post here when I have something really useful to say about the craft (Twitter is for daily musings, Goodreads to review and Amazon to buy my work); it's all about the quality here, folks, not the quantity. . . Enjoy!
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