Friday, 14 February 2014

Book Review: Siege by Sarah Mussi

Leah Jackson - in detention. Then armed Year 9s burst in, shooting. She escapes, just. But the new Lock Down system for keeping intruders out is now locking everyone in. She takes to the ceilings and air vents with another student, Anton, and manages to use her mobile to call out to the world.

First: survive the gang - the so-called 'Eternal Knights'.
Second: rescue other kids taken hostage, and one urgently needing medical help.

Outside, parents gather, the army want intelligence, television cameras roll, psychologists give opinions, sociologists rationalize, doctors advise - and they all want a piece of Leah. Soon her phone battery is running out; the SAS want her to reconnoiter the hostage area ... But she is guarding a terrifying conviction. Her brother, Connor, is at the center of this horror. Is he with the Eternal Knights or just a pawn?

She remembers. All those times Connor reached out for help ... If she'd listened, voiced her fears about him earlier, would things be different now? Should she give up her brother?

With only Anton for company, surviving by wits alone, Leah wrestles with the terrible choices ..

My Review:
Leah is in detention when her armed classmates come in and start shooting. She knows she must find somewhere safe to hide as she can't get out of the school-and she must find out if her younger brother is one of the shooters. Isolated and trapped, Leah wants to get help from outside which might mean risking being seen by the killers.

I bought this book because I thought that it would be interesting to read a book that takes place during a school shooting and siege. For the first few chapters the book pretty much delivered what I expected...running from the killers, trying to find a safe place to hide and witnessing others being shot. For the most part, these chapters pretty much delivered. Sadly the book went rapidly downhill after that, turning a good idea into a complete mess, to put it bluntly. Other than the start, there wasn't much else that I really liked about this book.

Leah is not exactly likeable. She is obviously a frequent troublemaker, hence being quite often in detention, she doesn't seem to think much of anyone including the girls that are meant to be her friends, and she is just written as the annoying angst filled anti authority teen that bugs me in this kind of book. There are too many excuses offered for why these teens are bad...the usual thing of poverty, social problems etc. Having a bad start in life is not a reason to murder your classmates in my opinion. Anyway, we know Leah suspects that her brother is one of the shooters but she doesn't need to remind us of that every second page, or that she hates him, or that she wants to know if he is involved. We get it ok? No need to hit us over the head with it again and again.

There is no real structure to the book or the writing. We get hints that this is a dystopian novel with a grim school system and hardline government but it isn't really explained or developed. We just have to accept that the government is bad and that's it whereas I like to know why the world is this way and what caused it. Character development was lacking and this led to me not really caring who lived and died in it, which is never a good thing when I'm reading a book. The language used is slang. Now I don't mind slang or regional dialects in books if the sentences make sense but in this case the way Leah's thoughts are presented are jumbled and it is not always easy to get what she is raving on about. I found this book very frustrating to read and didn't always get what the author was trying to do with it.

The plot. The further the book went, the more far-fetched the plot became. Obviously Leah couldn't remain hidden all through the book but her reasons for leaving her safe hiding places were dumb, and her decision making risked the lives of the few people that were safe from the gang. The whole interaction with the reporter with Leah agreeing to run around the school risking her life to film the killers and hostages in exchange for money just felt ridiculous to me. Two kids trying to defuse bombs and end the siege was just over the top. These nuts have been trying to kill you all through the book and you walk up to them and sort it all out in ten minutes with the 'we won't tell on you if you stop' nonsense? The whole second half of the book just went mental and I lost all interest.

I'd describe this book in the genre of thriller with a slight dystopian element. Unfortunately I wouldn't really recommend it.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

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