MADE YOU UP

Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex fights a daily battle to decipher what is real and whamade you upt is not.  And after an extremely unfortunate incident, Alex is ready for a fresh start at a new school where no one recognises her. Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love. But her inability to separate her delusions from reality is always just under the surface, and it could have disastrous consequences for the people closest to her. 

 

 

I got Made You Up for Christmas, and it’s taken me all this time to finish it. (Mainly because I read a bit, put it down, and got distracted by life and other books before grudgingly deciding I should probably start reading it again.) I managed to get through it quite quickly, but not because it was a page-turner, but because I was keen to get through the thing. Because if I’m completely honest… nothing about it really grabbed my attention.

The premise intrigued me. I liked the idea of trying to work out if the people and situations Alex encountered were real or not, but this presented itself as a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gave an insight into the mindset of someone suffering from schizophrenia and what a terrifying experience that must be, but on the other, it was difficult to get invested in any of the characters on the chance they might only exist in her head – helped along by the fact some weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. (I did have a theory on one character which turned out to be true, but like I said, I was suspicious of all of them.)

I hoped there’d be a stronger storyline to run alongside Alex’s personal struggles…but what was the plot, exactly? Vague suspicions based on paranoia without any definitive crisis? Exciting.

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ONE OF US IS LYING

    ~Five students walk into detention. Only four leave alive.~

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Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. 

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about how any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.

 

A geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess. As Simon comments early on:

“You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”

It had me thinking of a dark, murderous version of The Breakfast Club, especially with that title. (Talk about chills!)

One of Us Is Lying is told in first person, and switches between the perspectives of the main characters. Given that there are four of them and that multiple perspectives are told within a single chapter, I was a bit worried that Bronwyn and Addy, or Cooper and Nate would sort of merge together if their characters weren’t defined enough, and I’d forget who was who and who was doing what (if that makes sense.) So the first few chapters were a bit of a warm-up in getting used to the characters, but as each narrative voice was clear and distinct, there wasn’t an issue.

The plot kicks off from the first chapter, with the characters handling their own sub-plots as the main storyline progresses. What I liked was that even though the subplots were focussed on their own storylines, they still helped to move the main plot along in someway, as they’re all linked together (which is as close to a spoiler you’re going to be reading here!) Obviously these sub-plots were mainly focussed on character development, and given the stereotypical outline of the four protagonists, you can sort of see how their characters would change toward the end of the novel (almost a stereotype in itself) but I wasn’t mad about it.

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THE HAZEL WOOD

Alice has spent most of her life on the road, always one step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at her heels. but when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her isolated estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice discovers how bad her luck can really get.

Her own mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the supernatural world where the fairy tales are set. Alice’s only clue is the message left behind:

STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD

To rescue her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began…


This was one of those books I saw advertised all over the place, but despite the gorgeous cover, what swung it for me was the mention of dark fairy tales (yes please!) I had in mind something on par with Paedar O’ Guilin’s The Call, or Holly Black’s Tithe series. I was excited by the potential of discovering a new favourite book (and author). It’s beautifully written, the prose almost poetic, but to a point where I feel the inner dialogue doesn’t quite read naturally, and how I think opinions of The Hazel Wood may be divided.

 

I kept my eyes on the art deco elevator, so beautiful I wanted to cut it up into bracelets.
I schooled my expression to flatness, but when the elevator doors slid open, my vision blurred over with tears. Finch’s familiar face looked like an island to a drowning swimmer.

 

The writing style – although its best feature – did occasionally take me out of the novel, making me question Alice’s internal voice. I’d say this is something you get used to; more a point of familiarising yourself to Melissa’s style of writing, until your focus shifts more on the plot.

Which might take a while.

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THE CALL

On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever. That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives:

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That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, alone and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.

And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of the guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

The book’s cover is adorned with skulls, and the intriguing tag line: ‘You have three minutes to save your life.’ It sounds dark and urgent, more thriller than fantasy…but is it a little misleading? Maybe a bit, but I wasn’t disappointed.

The faerie folk (or Sidhe), and the grey land in which they reside are suitable terrifying. O’Guilin has created an imaginative and horrifying world, full of terror and suspense. Nothing makes you read on with bated breath, quite like the concept of a hopeless cause in a fight for survival. You sympathise with every character unlucky enough to receive ‘the call,’ and hope they survive until the end. These sections are nicely interspersed throughout the novel, picking up the pace where it’s needed, and keeping the sense of urgency going from beginning to end.

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