Sunday, April 22, 2012

The half life of Ryan Davis by Melinda Szymanik

For the past three years Ryan feels like he has been living in a parallel world - everything that happened before three years ago is the world of his family, and the past three years have been the world where his oldest sister Mallory vanished and his family fell apart.  The past two years have been just his mum, his younger sister Gemma, and him - his dad left and found himself a new life away from the pressure of Mallory and her disappearance.  It is a strange way to live, he can't get an afterschool job, he has to babysit Gemma whenever his mother goes out (even though she is 13), and he has to live with the fact that he will never live up to the high standards set by Mallory. 

Sometimes Ryan resents Mallory for disappearing, and sometimes it is all he can do just to try and stay normal.  When the detective involved in Mallory's case turns up to say that her old cellphone has been turned back on, things go from bad to worse.  Ryan's mum has always believed that Mallory will come home one day, and keeps searching for her, but things are taking a strange turn at home.  Ryan has always tried to stay under her radar, but with a girlfriend to impress he starts breaking all the rules - and then all hell breaks loose.

Too often when I read New Zealand books it feels as though it is a "once over lightly" taking an intense topic and making a pass at the idea rather than examining things in depth - and this is not one of those times.  The half life of Ryan Davis is a tense psychological thriller that grabs you from the start and keeps you hooked until the end.  Without giving away any of the plot twists and the subplots of the story, I can say that this book exceeded my expectations, the blurb promises an in depth read and it delivers. 

What would it be like to live in a household where a sibling has vanished?  It is something you often wonder about, and it comes up again and again in other novels where there is a kidnapping, it feels like the parents become so invested in the child that is missing that they forget that there are other children in the household, or in some cases it feels as though they expect the whole family to suffer because someone is missing.  This is an intense read and ends with a good amount of closure for the reader - without feeling too rushed.

If you like this book then try:
  • The face on the milk carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann
  • I am not Esther by Fleur Beale
  • Girl, missing by Sophie McKenzie
  • The sleeper wakes by David Hill
  • See ya, Simon by David Hill
  • The project by Brian Falkner

Reviewed by Brilla

1 comment:

  1. Just dropping by to say thank you - not only for reading my book but also for reviewing it on your blog. It is very exciting when someone responds this way to something I have written.