High and Dry by Sarah Skilton
|High and Dry by Sarah Skilton
|Reviewer: Robert James
|Summary: Brilliantly-voiced thriller with a stunning climax. Sarah Skilton has been chatting to us about writing the book.
|Date: June 2014
|Publisher: Abrams Books
|External links: Author's website
Charlie Dixon is having a bad week. Still struggling to get over being dumped by his girlfriend, he’s turned to alcohol, and now finds himself the lead suspect in the near-fatal drug overdose of a schoolmate. Offered an alibi by an ex-girlfriend who needs him to find her a missing flash drive, he takes the chance to investigate – but quickly finds that the truth is hard to come by and a lot of people seem to have been doing some dark dealings. Can he solve the case and win the girl back?
While Skilton’s first novel, the excellent Bruised, was memorable for its stark realism, this is altogether a different type of book. It’s technically contemporary, I suppose, but it seems deliberately unrealistic, set in a school where the cliques are taken so far to the next level that permission is needed to speak with younger students in a different group. With the school divided into songbirds, beckhams, and chekovs, Charlie is forced to use all his ingenuity to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. This reads like a mash-up between a normal contemporary and a film-noir.
While the setting is far from what I expected, where the book IS completely realistic is in its portrayal of the characters and the dialogue. I loved the friendship between Charlie and Ryder, the relationship between Charlie and Ellie, and – perhaps most of all – Charlie's family life. I found it really interesting that he actually talks to his parents and goes to them for help at times, because it’s still relatively rare to see that in a YA novel. As a narrator, Charlie is superb, with a breathtaking voice. There are lines here which are so hard-boiled you could probably break something on them – she looked like a sad girl in search of a tragedy. I could steer her toward mine, but it would cost her a finder's fee.
In addition, we have a layered, complex, and really hard-hitting climax – definitely one of the most memorable endings of the year so far for me.
Highly recommended and the huge differences between this and Bruised make me even more excited for Sarah Skilton’s next novel – I now have no idea what to expect, but I'm sure it will be fantastic!
I think fans of this one would like another tough thriller, Salvage by Keren David.
You can read more book reviews or buy High and Dry by Sarah Skilton at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy High and Dry by Sarah Skilton at Amazon.com.
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