Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Series: N/A 
Author: Cyn Balog
Page Count: 288
Published: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  5 Stars ★★★★★

I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Victoria has anxiety, is a bit of a loner and attends St. Ann's school. As a new student, she doesn't have many friends, but she's happy to have her sweet, agoraphobic boyfriend Andrew in her life. She's fairly satisfied with her seemingly uneventful life when Zachary, called 'Z', arrives at St. Ann's and find himself in the spotlight. Everybody likes Z, and to Victoria's surprise, they become friends.

Friendship quickly turns into obsession and infatuation, eventually going sour. Manipulation and mind games accompany rumors and rising tensions, until the unthinkable happens.

This is a story about murder and obsession, which is right up my alley. When I saw this on Netgalley I requested a copy and I was thrilled to find that I had been selected to read and review this book! I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity because this has become yet another book on my ever-growing "favourites" list.

First, there is the writing style and tone. While the first part of the book isn't exactly filled with death and darkness and all that good stuff, there is definitely a grim undertone behind every word. I could tell that things were going to get incredibly ugly later on in the book and this kept me reading because I just had to know what would happen. I haven't read many books with this kind of writing style but this one had me on the edge of my seat from the very start. Mixed within Victoria's narration are news reports, cell phone records and other clues about the murder which added to the mysterious feel of the book overall.

Then there are the characters. Victoria with her anxiety and love for her boyfriend, and later her obsession with Z, was the main character and narrator. I have mixed feelings about her, as I connected with her over her anxiety and her love for those close to her, but she did things that made me so angry! Her careless betrayals and reckless actions cost her a lot within her own relationships and negatively affected others. While I was often disappointed with her, I feel that her flaws and indiscretions were important characterization and made her more interesting as a character.

Then there was Z. He's mysterious and secretive, yet friendly, and because of this people are drawn to him. At first I didn't really understand his appeal but as I read on it was as if I felt his presence in the same way that the characters did, and that I better understood the way he was perceived by others. Along with the rumors surrounding him, it makes sense that he'd be popular and even sought after by other students at St. Ann's. He was nearly the opposite of Victoria in this way. As with Victoria, he definitely had his flaws and he often made me disappointed or even angry. However, I appreciated his flaws because, along with his secrets, it made him seem more real or believable.

Andrew, Victoria's boyfriend, was my favourite character. I liked him because he was sweet, forgiving, and because I connected with a lot of his experiences. Unfortunately he was a bit too meek and let others hurt him, which added to the emotional aspect of the novel. His relationship with Victoria was put under a lot of strain, and she treated him less than nicely a few times, but he seemed to keep it together which I found admirable. Between Victoria and Andrew, I was happy to see some representation of anxiety disorders in YA fiction.

Considering the ending, I can say that I was absolutely shocked. With other books I can often guess what's going to happen and be at least partly right, but besides knowing that there was going to be a murder, I was completely wrong with my guesses. The ending was simultaneously emotional and terrifying, and was one of the best conclusions to a YA novel I have read in a long time. I had to go back and re-read a few pages to really grasp what was going on. I feel like twist endings can sometimes be predictable themselves, but not this one.

This is a very dark book with memorable characters and an ending that tore me to pieces! I absolutely recommend it! If you prefer light-hearted books then I'd say to steer clear of this one, but if you're looking for dark YA books with emotional and shocking endings then this is a must read.

Find Unnatural Deeds on Goodreads

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