Guest YA Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon Pulse)

My friend Liz Kedge has again agreed to help with my YA pile of books after doing a great job with Blue Bloods and this time she tackles Hush, Hush:

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Pages: 416
Genre: YA
Standalone/Series: Stand Alone (so far)
Release: Out Now in HB or PB on the 27th May
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s/Simon Pulse

Nora is a sensible girl who knows where she’s going in life. No matter what her best friend, Vee, says, Nora’s got more important things to worry about than boys. Until she meets Patch and her world gets turned upside down. Is there something strange about Patch or is it all in Nora’s mind? And whose side is Patch really on?

This book starts with one scene from the past, then switches to the point of view of the main character, Nora Grey, who narrates the entire book. Nora is a fabulous example of something I like in a novel – the unreliable narrator. She is just unreliable enough for readers to know that we can’t quite trust her version of events, but the whole book is very carefully handled so we can’t work out what is really going on until the end.

Nora makes a change from some narrators, in that she’s fairly normal. Quite academic but not overly, and fairly sensible but not aggravatingly so, and not aggravatingly dim, either. That means that as events unfold, the reader is not in the position of being so far ahead of her that you think that she’s stupid, which is very important in sustaining a reader’s interest. We are slightly ahead of her in that we know that we are reading a book about supernatural beings whereas she doesn’t believe in that sort of thing and so has no recourse other than to believe that she is either mistaken or crazy. Cleverly, although the reader is aware that there are supernatural things going on, one of the supernatural things is affecting perception and so we too cannot be sure whether or not things have really happened or whether Nora is hallucinating or having her brain altered in some way. I honestly did not know where this book was going until the end, and I found it very gripping.

This book is very written, well paced and closely controlled so that the reader knows things when the author wants them to find them out. For example, Nora and her best friend Vee start chatting to a new boy (not Patch) who has transferred in from a local private school. This boy, Eliot,  is handsome and interested in Nora, and he has a rather boring friend, Jules, who Nora doesn’t like much, but who accompanies Eliot when he goes out with Nora and Vee to make up a four. When it becomes clear to Nora that someone is stalking her, she becomes suspicious of Eliot and discovers that one of his reasons for changing schools was because he was questioned by police as part of a murder inquiry set up to investigate the death of his ex-girlfriend. Nora becomes determined to investigate this, despite Vee’s belief that this is silly, and the reader finds it difficult to decide whether or not she is doing the right thing.

The other candidate for the stalker is Patch. Patch is Nora’s lab partner and has made it very clear that he wants more than that, but his behaviour is erratic, he knows things about Nora that he shouldn’t know, like her fondness for Baroque music and the fact that she plays the cello, and everything he says in their first meeting implies that he has been stalking her. When she is with him, strange things happen – she agrees to go on a fairground ride with him, has a strange hallucination on the ride and then finds that her friends have left without her, forcing her to accept Patch’s offer to take her home. There is clearly something very odd about Patch, but Nora is also clear that there is something very odd about Eliot. I doubted this slightly, thinking that Nora was keen to focus her suspicions on someone she was less interested in, but I was wrong because there is something odd about Eliot. I can’t say any more without spoiling it but this book is well worth reading. It actually delivers on the promise to keep you in suspense, the plot is well paced, logical and the final reveal makes perfect sense. An author to watch out for.

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