Author: C. J. Skuse
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller/Mystery, Young Adult
Publication Date: September 22nd 2016
Format: eARC (320 pages)
Synopsis: Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.
When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
My Rating: ★★★★★
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this book fully deserves a 5* review. From the first moment I started reading this, I was quick to realise that this was going to be a story that totally took over me. I wasn’t wrong. From beginning to end, this is an intriguing, suspenseful and honest book which kept me wanting more.
The Deviants is predominantly the story of Ella. She is our narrator and through each chapter of the book we learn more about her life and those who are in it. It is clear from the very beginning that Ella is keeping a secret, a dark secret, which is effecting her every day life. We see as she struggles to come to terms with having a sexual relationship with her long-term boyfriend Max and she struggles to deal with her own anger and emotions. It didn’t take long for me to roughly work out what her secret would be but it didn’t effect the suspense of the story as each chapter revealed that tiny bit more until a really shocking ending.
The Fearless Five were definitely a mixed bunch and I really loved the references to Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five. I loved those books as a child and straight away I understood the friendship this group of teenagers had shared during childhood. Ella is in training for the Commonwealth games but struggling with a dark secret, anger and emotion. Max is the son of a mega rich father who has thrown aside his education to begin work at his father’s business, despite the protests of girlfriend Ella. Corey starts out as the weakest link in the group; the one who was bullied for his disability and obsessed with cats and Harry Potter. Zane is now a bully who torments Corey, who has seen Zane for who he really is: gay. Fallon is the pregnant teenager who lives with her mother in a house filled with animals and animal skins.
The death of Jessica, Max’s sister, is what tore this group apart. What brings them back together is a series of events: the disappearance and death of Corey’s cat, discovering Fallon is pregnant, plotting revenge against Fallon’s tormentors, seeking revenge against Zane…. And that is just the beginning.
This story is so much more than I thought it was going to be. This is a book about friendship, about rediscovering old friends and building up bridges and making new memories. This is also a book about sexual abuse and the effects this can have on the victim’s mental health. There were so many scenes in this book where I couldn’t breathe because I felt one of two things: angry or deeply upset. So many incredibly important issues are touched upon in this one book but they are all made to feel so relevant and significant, it was a real reminder of what life can be like for a teenager. There was talk of bullying, seeking revenge (in such cruel ways), suicide, self-harming, pregnancy, sexual abuse, sexual relationship, jealousy, anger. The scope of this book is incredible.
I really loved the writing style and the layout of this book. Each chapter ends with a question in italics which then leads on to the beginning of the next chapter. It ties together seamlessly in an investigation-like manner as we discover more about the truths of the Fearless Five and Ella’s own dark secret. Culminating in a heart-pounding confrontation at the beach. I personally didn’t see the ending coming and I must admit that I loved it. I felt so emotional and saddened by what happened but at the same time it seemed like the perfect ending for this particular story. The final chapter of this book was full of such raw emotion and I couldn’t help but feel a few tears slide down my face as I finished the last page.
What did I love most about the book?
The characters in this book are seriously fantastic. They are all so believable and I think everyone will find something in each of them to relate to. C.J. Skuse has done something really special here, in my opinion. She has created a group of characters who are all incredibly flawed but made them some of the most relatable and painstakingly honest characters I have ever read.
Knowing now what the title The Deviants really means has changed everything about the way I look at this book. If you get a chance, please read this, it really is touching, wonderfully written and important. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read The Deviants? What did you think?