Saturday, 31 March 2012
Review: Dead to You by Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: February 7th, 2012
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It’s a miracle…at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn’t going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together. But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...
Dead to You is a bit of a departure for Lisa McMann in terms of both plot and writing style. It's not paranormal, instead it's realistic fiction, and realistic fiction at its best. The plot is fairly simple: abducted boy finds his way home nine years later, causes many problems for seemingly-together family and tries to piece together his life. Although there's nothing new there, McMann's strengths lie in the deep character layers that are slowly peeled back as the novel progresses.
I've loved every YA book Lisa McMann has published (apart from Gone, but that's another story), and I continue to be surprised and in awe of what she can do with words and themes. Dead to You made me feel uncomfortable in parts, especially when main protagonist Ethan has regular meltdowns that just can't be helped. Watching his family slowly unravel was both interesting and heartbreaking, though I completely understood their motivations for everything they did. McMann devotes equal time to each member of the De Wilde family, thus ensuring that they're all as real as can be.
Although Dead to You is a very strong novel, it does have its faults. A few things didn't quite add up for me, like why Ethan's parents didn't insist on a DNA test. In their relieved state it may not have made much difference to them either way, but I still think that after nine years it would have been the first thing on the minds of the police. Also, Ethan's relationship with Cami happens pretty fast, and while I can overlook that, I think a longer process would have suited the story better.
Overall, Dead to You is another brilliant novel from Lisa McMann. Not only can she write kick-ass creepy paranormal books like the Wake series and Cryer's Cross, she can also write genuinely realistic contemporary fiction that surely must have started out as an idea far out of her comfort zone. I can't wait to see what she writes next - she's on a roll!