Friday, March 4, 2016

Risk by Fleur Ferris

Taylor and Sierra have been best friends forever, sometimes it even seems like longer than forever because their mothers were best friends too.  Sierra leads a somewhat charmed life, her well off parents able to give her everything she needs and nearly everything she wants.  Taylor is more grounded, the death of her father leaving her mother and herself as a tight family unit.  Taylor is happy with her life, but sometimes it's a challenge not to get a little jealous of Sierra and her trips to the American ski season each year.  Taylor is the sensible friend, while Sierra is more inclined to see something she wants and just go for it.

When Sierra meets a cute boy online it seems like harmless fun - even if she is sneaking time on Taylor's internet because she is banned from accessing the internet herself after her last little "adventure".  When Jacob contacts Taylor she realises that Sierra used her details (again), but she quickly falls in love with him as they chat online over the weekend.  Taylor is all excited, until she discovers that Jacob has been chatting with Sierra all weekend too and they have agreed to meet.  Sierra is desperate to spend time with Jacob and arranges to sneak off with him while she is supposed to be staying with Taylor.

When Sierra doesn't make it home as promised Taylor thinks it is just Sierra being Sierra, but then another day goes past and Taylor realises that she has to tell Sierra's mother the truth.  Soon the police are involved, and Sierra's body is discovered.  As the full story comes out Taylor realises that nothing was as it seemed.  The carefully crafted lies of a calculating predator drew Sierra in and left her vulnerable.  As the weeks pass Taylor decides to create a blog to keep Sierra's memory alive, and to help stop other girls fall prey to predator that they don't even know exist.  Her goal is to stop Sierra's killer from taking another victim, but she may be too late for that.

Risk is an amazing book, not least of all because it is a story that needs to be told - and that teenagers need to read.  Often books about serious life topics (like Risk) are too serious or boring, trying to drill a message home rather than concentrating on telling a story teenagers can relate to.  Fleur Ferris has pulled off something of a miracle with Risk, the warning messages are all here, but they are carefully folded into a realistic and emotional story about an event that destroys the lives of not one, but two teenage girls.  Sierra may have died, and her family bears that loss, but because the lives of their families are so intertwined Taylor feels the loss of not only a best friend but also a sister and second family.  There is some uncomfortable reading here, and some moments that stretched my ability to suspend belief, but overall this is an engaging and emotional book.  I have to confess that I was more than a little teary eyed at the end of the book because I had connected with Taylor so strongly in this story!

I am not a teenager anymore by any stretch of the imagination, but this is a book written for today's teenagers - both in terms of the realistic language and relationships, but also because teenagers today are more vulnerable than previous generations because they live so much of their lives online with little understanding of the consequences.  Just to clarify I am not saying that teenagers are silly or stupid, just that teenagers have very different ideas about privacy and sharing things online!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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