Friday, 21 February 2014
Review: Young, Gifted and Dead by Lucy Carver
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: October 10th, 2013
You can’t get into St Jude’s Academy unless you’re gifted, talented and supremely rich. New girl Alyssa is on a scholarship and feels like an outsider - she's not even that smart, apart from her photographic memory (and that's cheating, right?). Then one day her room-mate Lily is found floating face down in the lake. It looks like suicide, but, torn apart with guilt and grief, Alyssa is convinced that things aren't as they seem. Soon a jolted memory puts her on the trail of a sinister secret that might hold the clues to Lily's suspicious death. But Alyssa is in too deep, and she's being watched...
I liked Young, Gifted and Dead right from the first page. The writing - fast and snarky - immediately pulled me in and before I knew it I was hooked. Like Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars, Young, Gifted and Dead is a cracking read that will keep you awake well into the night.
Set at St Jude's Academy, a prestigious UK boarding school for gifted students, this story kicks off like any self-respecting mystery should: with a murder. Lily, new girl Alyssa's friend and roommate, is found floating in a lake, the victim of an apparent suicide. Alyssa's knows all too well that Lily, this girl she knows and trusts, would never have killed herself, and so begins a dangerous, frantic search for the truth.
Lucy Carver's ability to weave an upper-class murder mystery involving teenagers is quite an achievement. All too often novels like this are tired and unbelievable; everything has been done before, nothing is new. While this book isn't new as such, it's the first time I've come across a story like this set in England. More often than not, these rich, spoilt young adults live in preppy schools on New York's Upper East Side, and bide their time by planning parties or shopping at Macy's. With this book, the stereotypes have moved closer to home, and it makes for a very satisfying read. Like I said, uproot the cast of Gossip Girl to a dreary English town and you've got Young, Gifted and Dead.
This story, along with its characters, is built on deceit and lies. It weaves a tangled web, leaving no stone unturned and throwing out some truly unexpected plot twists. The people can be abhorrent, the setting is ludicrous, but it all works when fitted together to make this huge puzzle ready for unravelling. The more I got embroiled in the story, the more I enjoyed it and wanted to race to the end to uncover the truth. It's a fantastic start to a series and it's one I'll be continuing with. I've seen this book be compared to the Gallagher Girls series and, while I do see certain similarities, Young, Gifted and Dead is so much better. Here's to more gossip and scandal from St Jude's Academy!