Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan
|Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan|
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam|
|Summary: The combination of emotionally intense prose, lush setting and cleverly structured narrative makes Eden Summer one of the top YA contemporaries of the year so far.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 277||Date: July 2016|
|Publisher: David Fickling Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Best friends for longer than they can remember, Jess and Eden have always been there for each other, through the good and the bad, though there's been a lot more of the latter over the last year. They've needed each other for support more than ever. But now, Eden is missing. The police are on the case, but Jess is wracked with worry. Overwhelmed by grief, Eden hasn't been herself all summer, her behaviour erratic and often veering towards the dangerous. Desperate to find Eden, Jess takes the search into her own hands. As she makes her way through the West Yorkshire countryside, she finds herself retracing the summer she and Eden spent together, digging up buried memories and secrets in the hope that they might yield some insight into where her friend might be.
The main storyline takes place over the course of the day Eden is reported missing, but there is constant flitting back and forth in time as the backstory is gradually brought to light through flashbacks, not necessarily presented in chronological order. We slowly learn more about the traumatic year that both girls have had, and how Eden's boyfriend Liam fits into everything. The cleverly structured narrative lends itself to a taut and riveting read that had me pretty hooked throughout its course.
While the overarching plot was perhaps a tad predictable, I was also pleasantly surprised at various points by how the author deftly avoided some of the classic pitfalls of the genre. In particular, it was refreshing to see a plot that didn't rely on occasional spurts of terrible decision-making from the characters for direction. The story felt real and organic, and the emotional beats struck all the more strongly for it. Jess is a hugely likeable and sympathetic protagonist, and I really adored the nature of her friendship with Eden. Both characters are vividly drawn out, and it's the beautiful and heartfelt exploration of their friendship that forms the beating heart of the story. Although the romantic aspect of the book doesn't quite hit the mark in the same way, the boys in the story do have a bit more substance to them than the typical Young Adult love interest cliché. Furthermore, the combination of the emotional storyline and lush setting of the West Yorkshire countryside could easily have veered the writing into the realms of purple prose, but aside from a few small patches, this wasn't a problem.
All in all, a top notch contemporary read, and a wonderful YA debut for Liz Flanagan!
Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to TheBookbag.
The lush, lyrical quality of Liz Flanagan's writing reminded me of Jandy Nelson's style at times; her debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere remains one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, and I also adored I'll Give You The Sun. Meanwhile, Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson and Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard both feature strong female friendships front and centre. Finally, I would also highly recommend Sarah Skilton's excellent teen contemporary, Bruised, which explores many similar themes to Eden Summer.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan at Amazon.com.
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