Published: 2nd March 2017
Started reading: July 25
Finished reading: July 27
Mae feels lucky to have grown up at Hummingbird Creek, an elite wellness
retreat where rich teens with psychological problems can
get the help they need from her father, a prominent psychiatrist.
The Creek has world-class cuisine, a state-of-the-art sports centre
and the latest spa treatments. Every aspect of daily life is monitored
for optimal health, and there are strict rules for everyone.
When Mae is caught breaking the rules, the response is severe. She
starts to question everything about her highly controlled life.
And at the Creek, asking questions can be dangerous…
This is a magnificent book. It is absorbing, it is thought-provoking, and it is full of unbelievable ideas that for me, make it stand out as one of the better contemporary YA books.
Not too long ago I read Sue Wallman’s most recent YA thriller, Your Turn To Die. It was an entertaining and thoughtful read though not without its flaws. However, I saw more than enough in her writing style, characterisation, and ability to formulate and intriguing plot to convince me to read some of her other work.
There are two things that really drive this book. The first is the setting; a stunningly realised and scarily sinister psychiatric facility. Hummingbird Creek is one massive juxtaposition, and a very skilful one at that. The serenity of the place is unnerving when contrasted with the the dictatorial, dishonest, and cult-like regime within, all orchestrated by Mae’s mysterious father.
And speaking of Mae, she is the other thing that drives this book. She is a fantastic narrator, so strong-willed and selfless and determined. You really experience the whole story with her as it unravels with sophistication at a solid pace. Indeed, all of the characters are very well realised, and I really felt I got to know them all as individuals.
Mae is also such a powerful character because she starts out as so unwilling and so unaware, with very little life experience. As the daughter of the man in charge of the facility and also one of its subjects, she is symbolic of what it represents, and this makes her journey towards discovering the true nature of her existence even more compelling.
There is very little, if anything, that I can criticise. It presents you with a mysterious plot, a compelling narrator, fascinating underlying themes, an engaging writing style, and an outstanding villain.
Thank you to Sue Wallman for this fabulous and captivating read. Five perfect stars!