Mini Reviews 1: The Contemporaries

Posted July 29, 2014 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 2 Comments

Today’s reviews all are contemporary YA novels, however each is very different.

amymatthewTitle: Amy & Matthew
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publication Date: March 17th 2014 
Macmillan Children’s Books
Source: Review copy from publisher

Summary: Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.
Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.
Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can’t explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…
This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there’s magic in it.

Firstly, on a shallow note, I adore this cover, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I had high expectations for Amy & Matthew as I love contemporary YA and this sounded very different due to the fact both main characters had a ‘disability’ of some form, and I haven’t seen this really discussed much in YA.

I thought that both Amy and Matthew were strong characters and narrators. I loved the email exchanges between the two and their friendship was well written. Amy seemed the more confident of the two and frequently encouraged Matthew to challenge his OCD.

McGovern doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of disabilities, or being a teenager and her writing style is assured. The only aspect that didn’t work for me personally was the prologue email and the way that led me to believe the novel would go. That said, this is a confident and heartfelt YA debut.

I think this novel would definitely appeal to fans of John Green, in particular, as well as contemporary YA readers. I’m intrigued to see what McGovern writes next as I think she has a good YA voice and style.

akissinthedarkTitle: A Kiss In The Dark
Author: Cat Clarke
Publication Date: April 3rd 2014
Publisher: Quercus
Source: Review copy from publisher

Summary: When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant.
Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend.
Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive…
But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.

A Kiss In The Dark is a hard book to review without spoiling the plot. While the plot twist – well, one of them, at least – is revealed early on, I will avoid mentioning it within this review which does I feel limit what I can say quite significantly.

A Kiss In The Dark is a tale of deception and betrayal as well as romance. While I anticipated one of the twists and betrayals, there is one towards the second half of the novel that I did not see coming and cast a different light on A Kiss In The Dark.

I enjoyed A Kiss In The Dark overall and found it gripping throughout. Clarke’s writing is clear, authentic and depicts the range of complicated emotions Alex and Kate went through. One of my favourite things about Clarke’s writing in general is she presents very human characters, with all their strengths and flaws together. In the case of A Kiss In The Dark, Clarke takes topics that have been covered in news stories and headlines but adds a level to them by making the characters and story feel real. If I’m honest it didn’t quite draw me in in the same way that Undone did, however it was still a very strong YA novel in my opinion.

Fans of Cat Clarke will definitely enjoy her latest novel, a contemporary YA that forces the reader to examine honesty, love and betrayal.

nowyouseemeehTitle: Now You See Me
Author: Emma Haughton
Publication Date: May 1st 2014
Publisher: Usborne
Source: Review copy from publisher

Summary: Three years ago, thirteen-year-old Danny Geller vanished without trace.
His family and friends are still hanging on to every last shred of hope. Not knowing if he’s alive or dead, their world is shrouded in shadows, secrets and suspicions.
This is the story of what happens when hope comes back to haunt you. When your desperation is used against you. When you search for the truth – but are too scared to accept the reality staring you in the face…
A mesmerizing psychological thriller with the most incredible twist you’ll read all year.

Now You See Me is inspired by a true story, as it says on the cover, and it was a story I’d actually read and heard about quite a bit before so I guessed the twist fairly quickly. That said, there was a final twist which I did not anticipate in the same way. Like with A Kiss In The Dark, I’m not explicitly going to discuss the twists which again limits my review significantly.

The friendship between Hannah and Danny was well conveyed and Haughton effectively depicted life after Danny’s disappearance and the strain on his family and friends.

Without going into the plot too deeply, Haughton’s writing is tight and suspenseful. I think at times, because I knew a bit about the ‘true story’, the suspense didn’t entirely work for me, however if I had no idea what was coming then I think it would have been more effective. The plot is tightly woven and Hannah is a strong and compelling narrator, trying to seek the truth behind Danny’s disappearance.

Enjoyable, fast-paced and an intriguing psychological thriller. Fans of novels such as Gone Girl and YA thrillers should find a lot to become invested in with Now You See Me.

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2 responses to “Mini Reviews 1: The Contemporaries

    • chooseyabooks

      Yay, it was your and Sophie’s twitter encouragement that made me bite the bullet. I have quite a few more planned too 🙂
      Oh, let me know what you think of Now You See Me when you read it!

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