YA Review: The Supreme Lie

Title: The Supreme Lie
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean 

What can I say about this book? The second book by Geraldine McCaughrean I have read proved to be every bit as quirky, wonderful, and unpredictable as the first (The White Darkness), and I was completely hooked.

Fifteen-year-old Gloria is a maid to the absolute ruler of Afalia, Madame Suprema. She is used to keeping her head down, serving meals with minimum fuss, and trying to stay invisible. When catastrophic floods devastate the country, Madame Suprema realises that she will be held responsible, and flees her home to avoid the consequences. Rather than allow the government to fall at such a critical moment, Gloria is chosen to impersonate the Suprema and bring the people of Afalia through the disaster.

Initially, Gloria is expected to follow a script and deceive the government and the people into believing the Suprema is still in control. As she finds herself drawn into the political turmoil and begins to witness the effects of the flooding, Gloria can’t help getting involved. While the Suprema’s husband is desperate to convince his young maid to stick to the script, Gloria’s interventions begin to draw attention from senators, factory owners, and the people she hopes to protect. Small decisions turn out to have catastrophic consequences, and Gloria finds herself risking the lives of her people as she desperately tries to do the right thing.

This is an absolutely gripping story with characters who grow more engaging as the complexities of the plot reveal themselves. There are no predictable moments, and no predictable outcomes as each decision brings further problems and complications. Gloria is a wonderful character, driven by compassion for the people and a conviction that she must use her new position to dispense help and justice instead of continuing the despotic self-serving actions of the real Suprema. The supporting cast includes the downtrodden husband of the Suprema, various devious politicians, Gloria’s childhood friend, and three dogs – two of whom expand the story in their own point-of-view chapters. Did I mention it was quirky?

The author uses humour and the absurdity of the situation to sneak some horrific events under the reader’s radar. Much of the narration feels lighthearted, while dealing with life-and-death decisions and disasters, and this technique allows the author to tell a sometimes harrowing story without plunging the reader into despair. Gloria’s optimism and determination to save people keeps the narrative feeling upbeat, and even when the reader can see danger in her actions, the maid-turned-Suprema keeps pushing for a positive outcome. The contrast between Gloria’s good intentions and the devious self-serving actions of the politicians adds menace to an already precarious setup, and the Suprema’s husband finds himself treading a careful line between the maid’s ambitions and the credibility of the lie.

The audiobook, read by Ailsa Joy, brings a perky 1920s newsreel atmosphere to the narration. It’s perfect for a quirky story that touches on so many serious issues, and I very much enjoyed listening.

Have you read The Supreme Lie? What did you think of Gloria’s story? What would you do in her place? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

Friendship v. Romance

Let’s talk about friendship v. romance in dystopian fiction. Which do you prefer?

The Battle Ground Series is deliberately friendship based, centred around a lives-on-the-line-for-each-other male/female friendship. These are teenagers, fighting for their country and their lives – and they’re not taking time out to look for romance. They’re busy surviving, dodging soldiers and bullets, trying to be brave, and keeping each other safe.

Did we mention Book One is FREE today? Grab your Kindle edition now!

YA Review: Believe Me (Shatter Me Novella)

Title: Believe Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi

When I finished Imagine Me, I predicted that Tahereh Mafi would write another novella to tie up the loose ends that explode in the final chapter, and happily I was right. I also predicted that it would be narrated by Kenji, best friend to the series protagonist Juliette – but on this prediction I was wrong.

Deliciously, the entire novella is narrated by Warner, offering the reader a vivid insight into his relationship with Juliette. It also highlights his resistance to building friendships with the people they worked with to survive the rest of the series, and his own dark assessment of his value to the other characters.

Believe Me has everything we need to feel a sense of closure for the Shatter Me series. Warner’s devotion to Juliette, and his ambivalence to everyone else in their compound. The struggle to bring about a sense of normality in a dramatically changing world. Juliette’s ability to bring people together, and the support she inspires in the people around her. And of course the romantic and very sexy scenes we have come to expect from this series.

It might be a short book, but it is full of big feelings – disappointment, jealousy, surprise and devotion. Warner’s journey is tough, but the author teases us with the possibility that his infuriating inability to connect with the people around him could be redeemed by his adoration for Juliette. The Bad Boy of the series tells us that he would do anything to make sure Juliette is safe and happy, and as he frequently wobbled in his resolve, I found myself willing him to demonstrate that she was genuinely the centre of his world. Warner and Juliette’s relationship might not be a healthy romance, but it is absolutely a convincing one. This is a frustrating, rewarding, emotional, and fitting end to the series.

Have you read Believe Me? What did you think of Warner’s narration? What about the ending? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.