When I was me by Hilary Freeman
Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN: 9781471404924
(Age: 15+) Story: Yesterday, Ella's life was completely normal. Today, she woke up as a different person. Or, to be more exact, she feels like the same person, but she looks different, her friends are different, and every facet of her life is different to what she remembers. At first she thinks she must be crazy, especially since she's the only person who thinks that anything is wrong, but when she meets a stranger named Daniel, she starts drawing closer and closer to the truth . . .
Review: First things first: When I was me is actually a good book. It has an intriguing, very original plotline, some interesting characters, and tremendous amounts of potential. However, this potential is never fully achieved - despite being very promising at first, this book ends up just sitting squarely within the genre of 'teen romance'. While not a bad thing necessarily, the intrigue of the original idea - that of a girl waking up in a life that is not hers, and all the consequences of that - almost feels wasted here. One feels that Freeman could have easily made this into a complex thriller with a dash of science-fiction sensibilities, but instead the book remains simple - at times far too much - and becomes just another run-of-the-mill teen novel rife with romance and friendship dramas. This is not to say the novel is totally flawed, however - there are some excellent themes here at play, and Freeman deals deftly with complicated topics such as finding your identity, and how we perceive reality. The characters are interesting, yet ultimately underdeveloped, and it rollicks along at an exciting pace. But while this novel is definitely enjoyable, it never quite reaches the heights it could have, and ultimately, that's the most frustrating thing.
Rebecca Adams (university student)