Genres: Young adult, contemporary, thriller.
Ros has a secret crush on Jonathan. Jonathan is massively hung up on Freya (even after she dumps him). And Freya? Well, Freya is a beautiful enigma. Even more so when she goes missing without a trace…
Pretty Twisted landed unexpectedly on my doorstep and I was immediately interested as I hadn’t read many young adult crime/thriller novels. However, as I started reading, I began to think that it was maybe too young for me and perhaps more suitable for a young teenager. The young adult genre is very broad: some books are very young and are unlikely to be appreciated by adults whereas others will be loved by readers of all ages. I immediately decided that it was also a little out-of-date because the main characters, Rosalind (aged 14) and Jonathan (aged 16), meet on MyPlace (i.e. MySpace, obviously). Do people even use MySpace anymore? Anyway, of course that’s not enough to ruin a book, but it did make me cringe. It was made worse by the fact that Rosalind used “chat speak” when talking to Jonathan (e.g. “my best friend is bein rubbish. shes suddenly become matey wiv this gang & wants me 2 hang out wiv them”). It’s bad enough being subjected to it on the internet, let alone in a book. However, I quickly began to realise that, actually, the scenarios were extremely realistic and reminiscent of my school years. It brought back so many memories. We all used MySpace, had stupid profiles with arty “emo” profile pictures, and I had friends that typed exactly the same way. Rosalind is actually one of the most realistic young adult characters I have come across in a while.
Pretty Twisted is about life as a teenager in England; growing up and discovering who you are whilst wanting to fit in with the crowd. Both characters are insecure and unsatisfied with their teenage lives. The reasons are honest and this meant that I ended up really enjoying this book. I particularly liked that the book explored internet relationships and challenged the idea that “everyone on the internet is a creepy old man”, a view that still exists today. It reinforces the idea that internet relationships can be genuine relationships and explores what these relationships can mean to those involved. This was a huge surprise to me and I think it’s a hugely important thing for people to realise. The book also offers some important advice for teenagers feeling unhappy with their lives. Overall, I think Blaxhill understood what it means to be a modern teenager extremely well. I applaud her for managing to describe teenage behaviour, feelings and experiences so accurately.
As for the crime/thriller aspect of the storyline, I found it to be less believable, although it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment and added intrigue to the story.
Overall, Pretty Twisted surprised me. It’s not for everyone and I mainly enjoyed it because I could identify with a lot of issues in the books. They may not be profound enough for everyone – you make think the issues are trivial and the characters immature, but I found them to be very real.
Thank you Pan Macmillan for sending me the book to review!
My Rating: ★★★★