Black by Fleur Ferris

Published: 22nd July 2016  Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too.

Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed.

Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way.

But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge.

If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?

I loved this book. I love how Ferris can make the simplest real life things turn into something creepy and unsettling. I love that she highlights these real life disturbing situations and turns them into something worthy of a horror story. My favourite thing is that with all the monsters invented over history, ‘it’s just people’ is often the scariest thing out there and Ferris knows how to bring these hidden real life monsters out from the shadows.

This is of course helped by having a character like Black. Her voice, her manner, her personality is perfect for this story, the right mix of everything. She isn’t a snob or some wild, social outcast who shuns people and they dislike her because she rebels. She has built a wall around herself to protect herself after life continues to torment her. I think Black is to be commended for her strength and the fact that she doesn’t let it change who she is, the fact her defences are there for her own sanity, is something I commend.

Ferris is always wonderful at creating strong family dynamics, and like Risk before, Black has a wonderful mother/daughter relationship. It was one I enjoyed seeing, the realistic love and protection and fierceness in both of them made them come to life. It wasn’t just two characters on a page that happened to be related, Ferris highlights their relationship well making them complex and genuine and they could easily be real people.

I loved the creepy nature of this story, Ferris makes it so vivid; I was there with Black with the uncertainty and the fear. I was drawn into the story by the subtleness and how the evil sneaks up on you, how the peculiarities of people suddenly snap and chaos unfolds. The tension and heightened emotion works well and Ferris paces it perfectly and makes you wait and wonder, and makes you wonder what will happen and marvel at the fact it is happening at all.

You can purchase Black via the following

Amazon AustBook Depository

Booktopia | QBD

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

 

Risk by Fleur Ferris

Published: 30th June 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Pages: 279
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

24973955Taylor 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?

I did not stop this book once I picked it up and for those who saw me tweeting into the early hours about this book, you understand the emotions I experienced.

What Ferris has done is told a gripping story that is real and could easily be a report on the news. This is an incredible message about the people on the internet and the possible dangers they pose. It’s about mistakes, friendships, evil, and the modern world. The parallels with reality are evident and there is a strong message woven through it, but it isn’t overbearing. What makes this not a report on the news is that Ferris includes all the elements to make this story feel real and truthful, but at the same time she also makes it a compelling novel, with all the great novel components. It is a beautiful story that is told with such heart.

Like all wonderful stories there are characters you love and Callum is someone I fell in love with pretty quickly. He is adorable and a sweetheart and he tries to be the best friend to Taylor that he can be. The personality of each character shines on the page and you love them because they’re real and they’re different, and Ferris makes you feel like they are standing right beside you as they speak.

As you read there’s a pounding in your chest that never fades, the story takes hold of your soul and pulls you through this gripping tale. So much happens before you are even half way and Ferris keeps up the intensity incredibly well. It’s easy to say the story is broken in two stages, but there are so many overlapping moments of mystery and various aftermaths there are mini moments and events throughout which stop it being placed in a simple before and after style story.

A wonderful moment is realising Taylor is still such a kid. She gets excited about things and let’s her mind wander with possibilities and having dreams that don’t come to fruition. Because of this I think it’s also easier to see how simple and blameless she is in everything that happens. As you read you pick up the red flags but at the same time you understand why Taylor doesn’t.

What I loved about this book was just how real it seemed. What Taylor experiences is not unheard of, nor is there a simple solution. Ferris uses Taylor as a great tool in telling a beautiful story while also spreading a message. She never preaches, nor does Taylor, and Ferris seamlessly explores the dangers of the modern world while also entertaining (and providing feels).

I implore everyone to read this book, it is not just a gripping and suspense filled story, but it acts as an educator for teens and parents alike. Ferris has used her skills and her background to create a captivating and truly beautiful story that also offers guidance and explores some very real consequences of the online world.

You can purchase Risk via the following

Booktopia | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | QBD

AmazonDymocks

Publisher | A&R Bookworld

AWW16

YA at the Newcastle Writers Festival 2016

I am a huge lover of Young Adult novels, I don’t read them or review them as much as I’d like to but I love them. YA events are another thing I love and I grab any chance to go to one and hear about the latest YA titles and other YA related things.

This year the Newcastle Writers Festival has some wonderful sessions running about memoir, history, and, climate change, but for the first time they are also running two YA panels: The State of Play for YA and Love, Loss, and Everything in Between. Last year the Sydney Writers Festival had excellent YA panels, with authors discussing what it means to write for teens and how that affects content etc. There was also a great event with TeenCon that brought together numerous publishers and bloggers to discuss books and reading and of course, book boyfriends.

Now it is Newcastle’s turn and I for one am so excited to see what it is going to be like. The State of Play for YA sees three industry insiders get together, Jennifer Dougherty (Allen & Unwin), Stephanie Speight (Text Publishing) and Zoe Walton (Penguin Random House), who are going to be talking with Gerry Bobsien and providing some industry insights from those in the know.

The second session, Love, Loss, and Everything in Between, involves three YA writers, David Burton, Trinity Doyle, and Fleur Ferris, talking with Linsay Knight about exploring the big issues of adolescence. I am really looking forward to this because YA books are some of the best places to explore issues and everyone has a different approach in addressing them.

If you are heading to the NWF and are interested in YA, or maybe you’re currently undecided about attending, I suggest you take a look at booking in for one or both of these sessions as I’m sure they will be filled with fascinating and insightful discussions.

Both sessions are on Sunday afternoon, 3 April, and tickets for each session are $15. Check out the NWF program for info and how to book.