He's After Me by Chris Higgins

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He's After Me by Chris Higgins

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A first love affair goes wrong in this beautifully observed and tense novel. Higgins uses a character from an earlier novel to great effect. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 034099701X

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Anna's father has run off with a younger woman, the hated Jude. Her mother is a wreck because of it. Her little sister Livi is going off the rails and running with a bad crowd. All this mayhem is anathema to Anna, who is a reserved, cautious and hardworking girl with an ambition to study literature at university. If this is what unrestrained, rampant emotions result in, then Anna's having none of it. She's never been in love and in many ways she sees this as a blessing.

And then she meets Jem.

His smile faded and our eyes held and that's when it happened. A charge passed through me like an electric shock.

And she falls in love. And it's wonderful. For a while...

I really liked this book! It's really quite dark - tense and intense. Deep down, Anna knows that her relationship with Jem isn't a healthy one, but she's never been in love before and she just can't get a sense of proportion. As the book goes on, she falls behind at school, loses her best friend, lies to her family - and even worse, but I shan't elaborate and spoil it. And, ironically, she begins the book with a sneering and condescending attitude to both her sister and her best friend when they've behave in clinging or needy ways over boys. We've all been there, or will be there. Sadly for Anna, though, this boy is dangerous and the sneering is all over.

The book is largely narrated by Anna herself and she has a clear, strong voice which will be immediately recognisable to readers. She is a bright, articulate girl with a promising future but she is beset with the same issues as every teenage girl - Will I ever fall in love? Will anyone ever fall in love with me? Does my bum look big in this? - and she has the added stress of the recent and acrimonious break up of her parents to cope with. She's at a vulnerable age and it's a fragile time for her family, so poor Anna is even more vulnerable to an abusive personality than many of her peers. And she falls for Jem hook, line and sinker.

We see snippets of what is going on from Jem's point of view in little inserts between chapters and it's quite chilling. They really ratchet up the tension and they leave the reader in no doubt that this relationship will end badly. And it does, but not in the way the reader is expecting. This story has a shocking twist in its tail.

It's beautifully observed, tight and tense, and it's highly recommended by Bookbag.

My thanks to the good people at Hodder for sending the book.

Chris has written about Jem before, in It's a 50/50 Thing by Chris Higgins. Another superb book about a disastrous and abusive first relationship is Meet Me At The Boathouse by Suzanne Bugler. Deathwatch by Nicola Morgan has a similarly creepy feel about it.

Buy He's After Me by Chris Higgins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy He's After Me by Chris Higgins at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy He's After Me by Chris Higgins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy He's After Me by Chris Higgins at Amazon.com.


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Hurishblue Rungoo said:

Hey you are absolutely right ! I never read a book like that before. It's so intense and exciting. I also believe that many people have felt the suspicions and curiosity arousing in the last few chapters, especially when this interesting but intriguing guy Jem left Anna alone that night to go to her house. His growing closeness with Livi was also quite suspicious.His intelligence also surprised me when he explained it would be better for him to go to her house so that no one doubts that they're together. I even started to believe that he was casting a spell on naive Livi at the same time. I guess I was right as Livi believed only him and finally paid the cost. The last few chapters were really painful but the way the story ended, seemed as if it was some one's real story.I felt sorry for Anna but I can't deny that I loved Jem's disturbed character and felt sympathy for him. I think he really needed support and love and that he was not really wicked. But I know that it was wrong to keep those pictures of Jude and those women while he was in a relationship with someone else who truly loved him. Plus it was not right to influence Livi and let her live with illusions .Well, I still really miss Jem and Anna and I would love another book by C.Higgins where Anna and Jem patch up and live a really good life together. But it's probably impossible as after Livi's death Anna's family have more reasons to hate Jem. Besides I guess Anna and Jem would themselves not be interested to get together and get into more trouble.