Review Blog

Jan 14 2015

There will be lies by Nick Lake

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408856000
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Thriller. Magic realism. Road trip. Shelby Jane Cooper is almost 18. She lives at home with her mother who has home-schooled her. Her days are highly organised by her mother who is totally preoccupied with keeping her safe, away from the world and especially men. When she is hit by a car and has to go to hospital with a broken leg, secrets that her mother has been keeping begin to unravel and they run away from the old life that they had. Only her mother seems to know just what they are running from and Shelby doesn't know what to believe. Her only friend seems to be a coyote and she starts to slip in and out of her world, not knowing what the truth is and what is a lie.
I found this to be a gripping thriller that I couldn't put down. The character of Shelby was awesome and her first person narration as she describes what happens kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew that I couldn't rely on it. She is a clever girl whose intelligence shines through her comments even when she is exaggerating and touches of humour lighten the mood, especially her cynicism about how her deafness is viewed. She freely admits that she knows nothing about Native American folklore and the reader knows that what she describes as she follows Coyote into an alternative universe may not be what Native Americans believe. Her alternate dream state provides a secondary story about killing the mythical Crone and rescuing the weeping Child that is as gripping as the road trip that she and her mother take to evade anyone following.
Nick Lake is an award winning author of the Michael J Printz Award 2013 for In darkness  and his mastery of language is evident in his world and character building. He is able to keep up the riveting suspense by often leaving the reader on a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, which ensures that the next page is read just to find out what is going to happen. He gives a brief introduction to the book on YouTube.
Readers who enjoy thrillers will love this story and it could provoke a lot of discussion in literature circles, in particular about the use of Native American mythology by an author who has no background in this area. (See a review from Debbie Reese at the American Indians in Children's Literature website, which is highly critical of this aspect.)
Pat Pledger

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