Book Review: The Opposite of You (Lou Morgan)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 224

Release Date: May 4th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bex and her identical twin sister Naomi used to be close. They used to be able to finish each other’s sentences, used to know exactly what the other was thinking. They were a matching pair.

And then something changed.

But Bex didn’t even realise until it was too late. When Naomi walks out of the house the night before their last GCSE exam and doesn’t come back, Bex has to think hard about how to find her.

What happens next will force Bex to unpick their shared history and the memories, following Naomi’s trail through their family, their past and all the way to the blinding lights of the Hemisphere music festival. Everything she thought she knew is called into question.

With her worries dismissed by their parents and ignored by her friends (and with Naomi’s friends nowhere to be found) the only person Bex can trust is a stranger – Josh – as she tries to piece together a picture of the person she thought she shared everything with. Naomi’s been leading another life, one Bex doesn’t recognize… and it’s led her straight into the path of Max: someone else who is not what they appear.

As Bex chases Naomi, she realizes it isn’t just whether she can find her twin: it’s whether she knows her at all.

And whether she still wants to.

Review:

Bex and Naomi are identical twins who’ve grown up to have very different personalities: Bex has friends, wants to be an artist and is the good twin, while Naomi is constantly getting in trouble and her life seems to be a bit of a mystery. When she disappears the day of their last GCSE exam, Bex delves into Naomi’s secrets to try and find her before she gets herself into too much trouble.

This was a really interesting little book. It felt very short and I did wish there was more of it, especially towards the end, when everything felt a bit crammed in there. It’s told from dual perspective of each twin, with memories from their past in there too.

Naomi was the ‘bad twin’ who fought with their parents and always seemed to get into trouble. I wasn’t particularly keen on her at first but as the book went on and her character developed I began really sympathise with her, although she made some really dumb decisions in the book and sometimes I just wanted to shake her! She struggles to find her identity, something we all go through in our teen years, but made doubly hard when you feel your twin slipping away from you.

I loved the exploration of the connection between the twins and how this was leaked out through their memories of their childhood. It was great how Bex rediscovered this with the reader – it worked well with the plot rather than feeling contrived. She realises that she may have pushed her twin away without realising it, even though in her mind at first it was Naomi who started rejecting her first. It was interesting to see their different points of view and the way they viewed the same memories.

This is a really fast paced book that you’ll definitely fly through. I found it more of a character piece than plot driven and I really loved getting to know the twins. I hope you will too!

4

Book Review: Blood and Feathers (Lou Morgan)

Publisher: Solaris

Pages: 384

Release Date: July 31st 2012

Summary (from Goodreads):

“What’s the first thing you think of when I say ‘angel’?” asked Mallory. Alice shrugged. “I don’t know… guns?”

Alice isn’t having the best of days. She was late for work, she missed her bus, and now she’s getting rained on. What she doesn’t know is that her day’s about to get worse: the epic, grand-scale kind of worse that comes from the arrival of two angels who claim everything about her life is a lie.

The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act – or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever.

That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided byMallory – a disgraced angel with a drinking problem and a whole load of secrets – Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell.

What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding – and can she trust either side?

Caught between the power plays of the angels and Lucifer himself, it isn’t just hell’s demons that Alice will have to defeat…

Review:

Earlier this year I read Sleepless by Lou Morgan and really enjoyed her writing. So when I received this book for my birthday earlier this year I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

I have to start off by saying how beautiful is that cover?! I could just stare at it forever, it’s absolutely stunning.

The book plunges straight into the action and gets the more awkward bits over very quickly. You know the kind I mean: when you’re trying to explain something fantastical and unbelievable to someone who’s lived in the real world and doesn’t believe in that kind of magic (the whole “You’re a wizard, Harry” moment). I can find these really awkward to read sometimes as it’s tricky to get the right level of disbelief and skepticism, followed by gradual acceptance. Morgan handles this very well though and I felt Alice accepted quickly enough for it to be believable but didn’t take so long that it became irritating.

The world building was really incredible, and you could see that Morgan had really done her research into angels and the mythology but also used this to create her own story and characters. There was a depth to it that I just loved: it really made things come alive for me and I felt completely sucked into the story. The angels aren’t what you’d expect: they’re not the good guys sweeping in on their beautiful wings to save the day. It’s more complicated than that. And I love that the angels weapons are mostly guns. It adds a whole new badass-ness to their characters!

I love that the focus of the book was more on Alice adjusting to her new life and saving the world than any romantic aspect. I feel there’s too much focus on finding love in YA at the moment, and I think it’s brave of Morgan not to include a romance line in her book. It didn’t need it, there was enough going on to keep anyone’s interest without complicating things with romance!

This worked well as a standalone book, as it solved the main story line set up in the beginning, but there’s also plenty left to be done, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Top Five… Books from 2014

Not so long ago I voted in the Bookish Peeps Book of 2014 and as I did so I realised I’d read very few of the books published then. I have since made up for that a little, and have decided to post my personal Top Five here.
5

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Clariel
Garth Nix
This is the only one on the list that I actually read in 2014. It’s not been reviewed yet, as I didn’t have my blog then, but I know at some point I’ll do a reread of all the Old Kingdome series. I loved having another adventure with the Abhorsens and this one really intrigued me. It’s interesting to see the back story of a character who’s a villain in a later book, and I loved it when I realised who Clariel was.
4

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Lou Morgan
One of the books in the wonderful Red Eye series, Sleepless is a story that blurs the lines between dreams and reality and makes for a confusing and scary read. Some gruesome touches made it a perfect horror story, and I’d recommend this and all the books in the Red Eye series for anyone who loves horror or wants to try something new.
3


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Clare Furniss
This placed high in the Bookish Peeps vote, and it’s easy to see why. Pearl’s grief is really ugly and sometimes hard to understand, and I think that’s the perfect representation of grief. Her story is painful and her actions don’t always make sense, but it’s relatable and gritty and it just makes you feel.


2


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James Dawson
I love horror and this book just totally did it for me. It’s based on an urban legend that I grew up with – I remember standing in front of the mirror in primary school and saying her name – and always wondered what would happen if it were true. Dawson brings that to life and fleshes it out into a creepy little story that I’d recommend to anyone.
1

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Louise O’Neill
This is by far the best book of 2014 for me. It’s one of those ones I can’t begin to articulate how much I adore. I’ve passed it on to my sister to read because I think she could learn a lot about feminism and attitudes to women in it. I think my favourite thing was the ending as, like the rest of the book, it felt brutal and true to real life – no fairy tale endings here!

Are there any books from 2014 that I should bump up the TBR pile?


Book Review: Sleepless (Lou Morgan)

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: October 1st 2014

Summary (From Goodreads):

Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.

Review:

I bought this book at the UKYA Extravaganza and got it signed by Lou and had a lovely chat with her about her books and the horror genre.

As a bit of a self confessed horror nerd (I spend most evenings watching horror films and I wrote my Masters dissertation on the subject) I enjoyed seeing a lot of classic horror tropes in the story, as well as references to situations we’re so used to seeing in horror films. Protagonist Izzy’s awareness of this (like me, she’s a horror film fan) somehow made the situation more believable: she knows that if she were watching her life as a film, she’d be screaming at herself not to go off alone, but sometimes the situation calls for it.

The setup of the story was very thorough: the characters and their group dynamic was very easy to grasp and the introduction of the pills seemed natural enough, though knowing what the story is about, you’re already yelling at them not to be so stupid. My gripe would be that the set up went on a little too long. It felt like I was over half way through before everything really started kicking off.

The warning on the back of the book is right: it’s definitely not for younger readers. Some of the descriptions are pretty gruesome and there are some grizzly deaths that made my skin crawl.

As with a lot of horror stories, I found I didn’t connect too well with some of the characters, probably because I knew they were going to be killed off. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I loved Izzy, Grey and Tigs (great name/nickname there) so I didn’t really mind regarding the others as part of the body count.

I was pretty ill while reading this and not sleeping well myself, so I really felt for Izzy as the tiredness began to take over her. I loved the lapses of memory/consciousness and not knowing what was really happening and what wasn’t. It makes everything feel so much more dangerous when the lines between reality and dreams are blurred.

In my head, I was comparing this constantly to Frozen Charlotte, another Red Eye book, and I found this book didn’t have the same kind of creepy atmosphere: if I compared it to a horror film, Sleepless would be a gory slasher, while Frozen Charlotte would be the psychological horror that stays with you long after it’s finished.

The ending was a little confusing and open ended, but it’s another horror trope I’ve come to expect, especially with modern horror: I think horror can lose its effect if it’s all closed off neatly at the end, and with some ambiguity it means the nightmare is still going on.

This is another modern horror that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good scare, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Lou’s books.

 My Verdict:
 
4
If you enjoyed this, you might like Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell