My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - approx 3 hours
Pages - 384
Publisher - HQ
Source - Netgalley
Blurb from Goodreads
“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”
All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.
Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.
Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.
Before it’s too late.
When Drew's little brother gets shipped to the RRA (residential reform academy) she is a tad relieved. He is troublesome, irritating and all the things little brothers can be, more so since their father left/went missing/died? years ago. When a doctor warns Drew her brother is in danger and the academy isn't what it seems Drew embarks on a mission to save her brother but at what cost?
I read this in one sitting, whilst the book is YA (Young Adult) it absolutely can be enjoyed by adults, I sank it in about three hours. Drew starts digging into what the academy is but despite many successfully reformed kids there does not seem to be a lot of information, if any, on the social medias. When Drew sees "evidence" with her own eyes she knows she has to get into the academy. The story starts off giving us insight into Drew's life, her family home set up and her chain of thought on how to tackle the situation. It is a tense build up and split into two parts, the before and infiltration, the after and what life is like inside the academy. In some parts the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck, things aren't right, the plot is teased out page by page to discover just what is happening.
I didn't want to put the book down as I had to know, where is this going, what is happening, who can I/she trust? Thankfully yesterday was a day off so I could zone out and devour the story. It is a steady paced read in that the reader is took on the journey with the main character, having to go through the plan stage by stage creating distrust and holding your breath at parts. There are themes that cater for the teen reader, childish bullying, friend turned enemy, bitching, who fancies who but it doesn't detract from the bulk of the thriller theme. It is enough for the aimed at audience and relevant whilst not detracting from the main story that will engage the adult reader. To be honest, I think even the themes for the younger readers will spark old memories within the mature reader and it wasn't so long ago that I couldn't empathise with Drew or the issues raised.
I have liked all of Taylor's books I have read, I was a bit apprehensive going into this one, when an author branches into new territory as a reader you do worry. Will they be able to capture the new voice and writing, can they engage the reader as they have done in previous genre? Absolutely unfounded worries, Taylor has shown she can turn her hand to YA as well as psychological thrillers, 4/5 for me this time. Now to wait *patiently* for her to get the next book out, be it YA or her normal genre I cannot wait. Thanks so much to Netgalley for providing a review copy, you can buy your own now from all good retailers from October this year.