Review Blog

Nov 10 2015

Risk by Fleur Ferris

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Random House Australia, 2015. ISBN 9780857986474
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Online predators. Adolescent. Taylor and Sierra have been best friends forever, but Taylor is annoyed when Sierra always seems to get whatever she wants, regardless of whether she hurts her friends or not. Taylor has had a crush on Callum for ages and was angry that Sierra was supposed to kiss him at a party. When Sierra decides to meet in real life a boy both of them were communicating with online,
Taylor covers for her. When she doesn't come back when she said she would, Taylor thinks that it is just Sierra being careless, and doesn't tell anyone.
This is a really gripping story told in Taylor's voice. The reader is carried along, knowing that Sierra is taking awful risks in meeting someone from online and when she doesn't come home, the reader is flung into a dark place, hoping against hope that she will make it back safely. On the terrible wait, much is learnt about how online predators can hide their identity and lure young girls into trusting them. Details are given about how they learn about their likes and dislikes, where they shop, the sports they play and their friends. All this knowledge is used to create a persona that will appeal to the girl, making her feel as if she has met her soul mate.
It is easy to empathise with Taylor who has always felt that Sierra is the centre of attention and understand why Sierra's friends believe that Sierra could be acting in her usual selfish manner. The jealousies, romances and relationships of teens all resonate and make the story feel as if is real. Ferris has captured the dilemma of when a friend should alert adults to their friend's behaviour and why it can be dangerous not to. All the characters, adult and teens, carry guilt about their actions, and this is explored in-depth as well.
Ferris has built up a very credible story and her background as a police officer and paramedic give it authenticity. The police scenes were really well done and would be an eye-opener for teens who haven't dealt with the police.
This was a compelling read. It would be a powerful class novel or literature circle book as it relates directly to the use of social media and the online world that is such a pivotal part of teen life.
Pat Pledger

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