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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Review: The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins

Tense YA thriller focused on friendship, identity and trust 

I was gripped from the start by this fabulous teen thriller exploring trust, identity and friendship. Chris Higgins controls the tension perfectly, ratcheting it up gradually with hints and clues.

The novel is narrated directly by Indie, initially through the device of a telephone call to The Samaritans. Clearly this tells us that the situation is extreme, and since Indie has been asked to start at the beginning, we are given all the little clues that Indie can see far more clearly with the benefit of hindsight. I loved the little touches of Indie's interaction with the Samaritan - this definitely helped both to add to the realism and to increase the tension by delaying the plot developments.

Being older than your average YA reader :), the blurb and premise of this novel reminded me of the film Single White Female, and it stands up well to the comparison, while also having a few surprises of its own. It's clear from the start that Suzie has done something to cause big trouble for Indie, effectively stealing her life out from under her. Please note that this is not a spoiler - a key part of the tension is that we know this from the blurb and Indie's opening comments to the Samaritan, and are scrabbling to try to piece together how it all happened, and to see where it will go. The novel is structured perfectly to amp up the tension and propel us towards the climax and conclusion.

Indie's character is adorable and I love that she doesn't lose her openness and loving nature, despite the mess she finds herself in. Her boyfriend, Rick, is a great and realistic character too, as are her friends, especially Mel. Both Mel and Rick are suspicious of Suzie, which she is able to use against them and to help her to get closer to Indie. Suzie is an amazing character - it's hard not to admire her, even while you know she's conniving and cunning.

Overall, I would readily recommend this to anyone looking for an exciting teen read. Chris Higgins ekes out the drama beautifully, making this a delight.

From Goodreads:

'My boyfriend could get into trouble if he gets caught. He could go to jail.' I moan softly. 'So could I.' 'Anything you tell me is completely confidential.' I sigh deeply. What have I got to lose? 'I wouldn't know where to begin.' 'At the beginning?' she says. 'In your own words.' So that's what I do. I start at the beginning like she says. The day I met Suzie.

Indigo (Indie) rings the Samaritans. She is frightened and desperate with no one to turn to. Over the course of one long night, Indie tells her story to the person on the end of the phone. She realises that her friend Suzie has taken over her home, her friends, her work, her boyfriend - and her life. After every few chapters we are brought back to the present moment, and see how piecing the story together helps Indie progress towards resolution

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Published March 7 by Hodder
Find more information on Goodreads
My grateful thanks to the publisher for providing me with a proof copy for review

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