Published: 2nd February 2012
Book: For Review*
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological-Thriller, Action-Adventure, Mystery, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Mild Sex, Drugs and Alchohol References, Violence, Death and Swearing
Author's Site: Celia Rees
Everyone says that Caro is bad news, but Jamie can’t help himself. He thinks of her night and day and can’t believe that she wants to be his girlfriend. Gorgeous, impulsive and unconventional, she is totally different to all the other girls he knows. His sister, Martha, hates her. Jamie doesn’t know why, but ther’es no way he;s going to take any notice of her warnings to stay away from Caro.
As Jamie falls deeper and deeper under her spell, he realises there is much more to Caro than he first thought. She disappears for days on end, she has small scars on her wrists, she talks about revolutions and taking action, and then there are the rumours he hears about the other men in her life.
Always in the backgrounds is Rob, Jamie’s older brother, back from Afghanistan and traumatised after having his leg smashed to bits there. Jamie wants to help him, but Rob seems to be living in a world of his won and is increasingly difficult to reach. With Caro, the summer should have been perfect… but that isn’t how things work out in real life and Jamie is going to find out the hard way.
“I can’t decide what to do with your ashes.
“You don’t deserve to be liberated yet.
“This is not forgiveness. Don’t think that.”
Starting at the end with two funerals, we know Rob is dead. And that he did something those closest to him cannot forgive him for. The question is what?
Introducing Caro: mysterious, impulsive and dangerous. Meet Jamie: sweet, naïve and desperate for Caro to notice him, although he never thought she would. Finally Rob, wounded and damaged, a devoted solider who is no longer in the army.
It’s common knowledge that the beautiful Caro is trouble. Everyone warns Jamie not to get involved, but he’s under her spell.
Over the summer, these threes’ lives are entangled, with explosive consequences…
I’m a huge fan of Celia Rees – she is one of my favourite authors! I’ve become used to her historical fiction and the lyrical way she has of showing sometimes horrible events. This Is Not Forgiveness? The opposite. It was shocking – in such a good way. It was unlike anything I’ve read by her before, and like all her other books it has to be added to my favourites.
Caro was a complicated character, one I couldn’t figure out whether I liked or not for ages. She was mysterious, a “trouble maker”, independent and unpredictable. Although she was from a privileged background, I liked the three-dimensional aspect her political views and recklessness gave her. Overall, though, she wasn’t exactly likeable, as she was manipulative and extreme, but she wasn’t as bad as she first seemed. Well, not by the end, anyway…
Jamie was the average one, the ‘normal’ teenager. He was a little shy, but cute. However, the complete and utter obsession he developed for Caro? Yeah, not so sweet. It was like everyone else didn’t matter, only Caro: and let me tell you, the trait is as bad in a guy as it is in a girl. But he was sweet, and sensitive, and I did like him: he was probably the most likeable of the three characters, even if he wasn’t the most interesting.
Jamie’s brother, Rob, completes our trio. Now, Rob, for me, was the most complex and intriguing character for me. A former soldier who had been injured while in Afghanistan, he was scarred both inside and out. We got to see how being over there had changed him: it was astounding, and I think Rees portrayed it brilliantly. It really showed how fighting in the war changes your mind and way of thinking, and all of this and Rob’s believable and rough voice made him feel so real and completely interesting.
Rob and Jamie’s sister, Martha was someone I felt could have been used more, as a rather ‘impartial’ onlooker, not involved. She didn’t get to speak, but she made her thoughts known through her insistent warnings to Jamie. I think reading from her point of view may have made the whole story richer and that we could have seen more into the past of the three lead characters.
The characters were amazing and so strong, each vividly believable. They may not have been exactly loveable all the time, but each had charms that draw you in and getting into their heads gives us that exclusive inside peek. And at the end. Well, one completely shocked me, one pleasantly surprised me and one lived up to my expectations. Who is who? you may ask. Well, you’ll have to read it yourself and make your own opinions, because you definitely won’t regret it!
This Is Not Forgiveness tackles difficult issues effortlessly: war and how it affects those who have been there. Extremist views – ones developed right here in England – and how the ones who believe in them are willing to do anything to get attention. It also has sex, drugs and alcohol (no rock-n-roll, though) – maybe a little bit too much of those – that overall made the teens very teen. The story was powerful and intense, the subject brilliantly shocking. This may just be the best Celia Rees book ever!
I loved the writing, these three so distinct voices! All too often you find dual narratives who sound so similar you can’t tell them apart. This Is Not Forgiveness? Not one of those, not even in the slightest: even without the names at the start of the chapter, I would have been able to tell who was who. And the writing, well, I’ve always loved Rees’ style and it truly comes through in Caro. All the writing had all her classic addictiveness, the one that keeps me totally hooked. Beautiful, raw, edgy and so, so strong, it was perfect for the book and each voice was perfect for the character.
I was completely on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The beginning throws us in at the end and makes us desperate to know: How? What? Why? When? And the story? More powerful than anything I thought it would be. I was just sucked in by the plot, absorbed, unaware of the ‘real world’. The action started up and lasted until the end of the story, and God: I just couldn’t stop reading! And I did not see that final twist coming; actually, I didn’t guess most of the twists!
This was a powerful, hard-hitting book that had me completely and utterly under its spell all the way through. Different lives and feelings wove together to create a brilliantly written, intense and explosive story that left me reeling. Beautiful, terrible, shocking and moving, This is Not Forgiveness is not one I will be forgetting in a long, long time.
4½ Out of 5
4½ Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
Celia Rees' Historical Novels
Challenges It's Taking Part In:
100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2012 (Hosted by Book Chick City)
* This book was received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest reviewNumber of Pages: 228