Review Blog

Mar 12 2019

The rip by Mark Brandi

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Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9780733641121.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Themes: Crime. Thriller. Drug abuse. A young woman, a drug addict, is living on the streets with her friend Anton and her bull terrier Sunny. Although Anton has been in jail, possibly for manslaughter, he actually is someone she can trust, and the two of them manage to get by, scrounging money and always on the lookout for the next drug hit. The drugs are her way of finding an upside to a life that for her has always been on the downside. Anton even has dreams of maybe getting a flat someday, a place of their own. She knows it's only a dream, but at least she has a friend, and the dog as her faithful companion.
Then, one day, Steve turns up, someone from Anton's past, and instinctively she knows that he's dangerous and not to be trusted. But it is hard to hold onto any thoughts or plans when the cravings hit in. And both she and Anton find themselves getting deeper and deeper into dependence, like swimming out past the rip, and not knowing how to get back. There's a strange smell in Steve's flat, like something chemical, something bad, and his moods can swing violently.
The tension in the novel builds up; we as the reader know that she is in danger, she needs to get away, but the need for the drug release clouds her judgement, and she always procrastinates. She creates different explanations, builds illusions, rather than face reality and act.
Brandi's novel is a compelling thriller, drawing you into the mind of a young person who has experienced abuse and manipulation. She is intelligent, but she's only ever known the worst things in life. She does encounter some kind people, but most react with fear or aversion. Until she can find her own inner strength, she is always going to seek the sweet release of drugs. And that puts her right in the path of the worst manipulator of all, where she, Anton and Sunny, will be lucky if they come out alive.
Brandi has created yet another disturbing story, a worthy successor to his acclaimed first novel, Wimmera. However, school libraries are forewarned about strong themes of drugs and addiction.
Helen Eddy

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