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Monday, 28 January 2013

book reviews

 Deck of Lies is the first book in the Justice series, and I predict that Jade Varden is onto a winner here. She has found a great premise and the mysteries surrounding the protagonist’s life will keep the reader engrossed to the very end.  If you are looking for a new YA series, I urge you to give this a go. Varden  has just the right voice for the YA market, and the book is well written, edited and proof read.  (My personal hate is a SP book that is just thrown out there.)
I am not her target audience, yet I very much enjoyed reading Deck of Lies.
The story is told in the first person narrative by Rain Raney, a teenage girl who lives with loving parents and an older brother.  The family are not well off, but they are happy.  Rain has won a scholarship to the exclusive  Sloane academy.  From the beginning she does not feel she belongs there, and finds the other pupils snobby and unaccepting.
Desperate to nourish friendships, when Rain is invited to go shopping with some of the girls from  school, she readily agrees.  However, those girls have conspired to play a cruel trick on her, the consequences of which lead to the discovery that Rain’s whole life has been based on secrets and lies.  There are also a couple of love interests, but they are more of a sub-plot but appropriate given Rain’s  age and lack of experience.
There is so much more I could say about this book, but I do not want to include spoilers.  Suffice to say, Rain Ramey goes to school one day and she never goes home again.
Deck of Lies has so many twists and turns the reader is kept in suspense to the end.  But wait – this is not the end.  I believe there is another three books before all is uncovered. 

Deck of Lies definitely has the Wow factor.


 Orla Broderick is a brilliant writer. In this book we follow the fortunes of Mary, a single mother, who has been abandoned and living on benefits, and most probably, suffering from post-natal depression. Although the beautiful island of Skye may seem idyllic to many, Mary's home on an impoverished council estate is no more idyllic than any such scheme in other parts of the UK. Through Mary's eyes, we see the deprivation of the area, understand her suffering as, friendless and without support of family, she barely tolerates life in an area she hates.
Mary begins with poor self-image and lives only for her daughter, Angel. Love of Angel is not enough, however. Mary is a young woman who craves the companionship of a man. She misses sex, and is driven to invite a complete stranger into her home. Naïve and vulnerable, Mary allows the relationship to progresses. Even then there are danger signs. He seems more interested in the child than Mary.
In order to escape the estate, she leaves with him to live in a caravan on his mother's property. Although Mary has fallen foul of the social services for making herself homeless by leaving what they see is perfectly adequate accommodation with all the mod cons to live in a caravan without even a basic toilet, the child is happier and healthier than she was before.
As she plays with her child, Mary's imagination takes her to magical places, and they laugh and dance on the beach. But all is not well. I will not spoil the story by elaborating any further.

The story is told in the present tense, through a stream of consciousness as Mary talks to her daughter, telling her how much she loves her and what is happening each step of the way.

This is not a fast moving page turner. Orla relies instead on truly beautiful and poetic language that flows gently from each page. The characterisation is so well done, we really are drawn into Mary's world, feel with her, sympathise perhaps even emphasise. All the supporting characters are equally well drawn. You can see them, hear them. They help carry the story along as they leap into the reader's imagination.

Orla has her own voice and her style is unique and beautiful. She has mastered the art of painting a picture with words. What more can I say?

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