Monday, March 11, 2013

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Author:  Ilsa J. Bick
Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan (Imprint: Quercus)
Publication Date:  20th February 2013
ISBN:  978170870434
Stand alone or series:   Stand Alone
Pages:  368 pages
Book Received from:  Pan Macmillan (Publisher)
First Lines:  "Look," says the detective.  He stares down at the girl huddled on the gurney.

Jenna is sweet sixteen, the age when a girl is supposed to find her prince. Instead she finds Mr Anderson – intelligent, handsome, married Mr Anderson, who just happens to be her chemistry teacher. With a dark past and a difficult family, Jenna is just happy to have someone to protect her, to worry about her, to love her.

But should she be suspicious of Mr Anderson's reputation for helping "damaged" students? Why is the most popular girl in school suddenly jealous of her? And where is Mr Anderson's wife? This is a love story that breaks all the rules, but that won't stop it breaking your heart.
My Thoughts:
The books I'm most hesitant reading are ones that I love the most.  I've read Ashes and Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick and absolutely fell in love with her writing so I was stoked that Pan Macmillan sent me a review copy to review.  I'll admit right now I was very hesitant in reading this with the whole "Teacher/Student" scenario.  But when I began reading the very beginning of Jenna's story I knew this was going to be a whole lot different to what I thought.

Jenna is... she's hard to explain because while she does these unthinkable things to herself she is also one of the bravest characters I've come across.  She seems vulnerable in that first chapter but also quite hard.

I'm struggling here to write what I want to say.  Drowning Instinct isn't about right or wrong or anything like that because the main character knew what she was doing was wrong.  So did the Teacher.  But I couldn't help but feel for both Jenna and Mr Anderson.  Jenna has been through the ringer and doesn't have anyone except for herself and when Mr Anderson comes along at the right time, he seems to be the only person she feels that she can trust and the only one looking out for her.

I really like the way the story is told too.  Jenna is given a voice recorder in the beginning because she won't talk to the Detective, so the very start is broken up in parts eg. 1a, 1b, 1c... and it draws you in with its shorter paragraphs until they get progressively larger and more like chapters.  It edges you in, draws you in and once you're there you can't put it down.  Admittedly there a slow spots throughout the book but they didn't slow me down I was just drawn more and more into Jenna's story.

Don't get me wrong, Jenna is a broken girl.  But her strength lies in the way she tells her story and doesn't want anyone's pity.  She's not as naive as a girl her age should be what with the experiences she's dealt with and what not.

This is definitely one very thought provoking read, and the way its told, makes you sit back and think about what you perceive as right and wrong.  Ilsa J. Bick's background as a Child Psychiatrist sure pays off when reading something this complex.  The characters and the story felt real.

I won't say too much more because you need to pick this book up for yourself but be prepared.  It's a story with an edge and touches upon issues that are probably best suited to a mature teen.

You can read an extract on Pan Macmillan's Website!

Fave Line:  Yet many others search their entire lives for something - or someone - worth dying for and this is very different.  These are the lonely and the desperate,  fearful that their lives no meaning.  They yearn for the bullet, if only someone else will pull the trigger. - Page 307


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