Review of "Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J Bick"

published 08/10/2013 | zoe_page
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"Notes on a Scandal"

Jenna is 16 years old, and fresh out of a psychiatric hospital when her parents enrol her at a new high school in the wilds of Wisconsin. Being the new kid at school adds to an already iffy situation (parents who ignore her angst in favour of their own; a brother who enlisted to get away from them) and she's not really looking forward to term starting. But then she meets someone, someone special who is kind to her, pays attention to her, looks out for her. Someone she can trust. Mr Anderson is a Chemistry teacher and athletics coach, but he's more than that to Jenna. Against the rules, and against the odds, he becomes her ally, and so much more.

This is a brilliant, inventive, gripping young adult book that will delight teens while perhaps terrifying their parents. Every page simmers with suspense, and the knowledge that something big is coming, something bad bubbling under the surface, but we're at Jenna's mercy as she is the one telling the story, her train of thought maddeningly wandering away from the topic again and again. This is the story of the relationship between Jenna and Mr Anderson, told exclusively from her point of view. She's not telling it to a friend though, or even writing it in her diary: she's in hospital, speaking into a detective's tape recorder. And boy, does she have a lot to say.

There are lots of books about teacher-student relationships, but this one is different. Because it's all from Jenna's point of view, the perspective is completely different. This is not about what's right or wrong, it's about a troubled girl who just wants to be happy. And if Mr Anderson makes her happy, is that such a bad thing?

This book isn't as uncomfortable to read as you might expect. Jenna may have had a messy life up until now, but she is still very much in charge and knows what she is doing. The relationship, as she narrates it, seems neither exploitive nor disturbing. It's not a story where everyone but the main character sees all the signs, the warning flags, the 'turn back NOW' moments. It's a story where you actually root for the budding relationship, will it to all work out. It's also not a graphic book - you know what the couple are up to, but you don't get the, erm, ins and outs, or, erm again, blow by blow account. This keeps it more appropriate for its target audience, while also adding to the delicious frustration for older readers who want more than dropped hints.

Jenna's story captivated me. I felt the ending was more extreme than I was expecting, and the last few chapters really packed in the action, but I was definitely left wanting more, and would love to see a Jenna, or indeed Mr Anderson, follow up.

This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk

Drowing Instinct is out now in paperback and on Kindle

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Comments on this review

  • ladyofflame published 09/10/2013
    Well written, not my usual type of book but I sympathise with the main character already!
  • CosmicLove published 08/10/2013
    Sounds like a good book :)
  • kat123456 published 08/10/2013
    nice read
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Product Information : Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J Bick

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Subgenre: Young Adults

Author: Ilsa J Bick

EAN: 9781780870434

ISBN: 1780870434

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Listed on Ciao since: 16/04/2013