Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Illegal by Miriam Halahmy

Series: Hayling Island Cycle, Book Two
Publisher: Meadowside Fiction
Format: ARC
Published: 20th March 2012
Number of Pages: 288
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic-Fiction, Romance, Coming of Age, Action-Adventure, Thriller-Suspence, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Self-harming, Drug Growing, Swearing
No Alcohol References
Author's Blog: Miriam Halahmy

“If Jemma had lived, none of this would have happened.  I’d have been too busy to get dragged into this filthy, illegal business…”
Since Lindy’s baby sister died, her family have been caught in a downward spiral.  Her brothers are in prison and her parents have given up.  Soon Lindy is out of her depth too, caught in the centre of an international drugs ring, with no way out.  Then Lindy finds help from an unexpected ally: weird, mute Karl from school, and together they plan a daring and desperate escape.  But when you’re in this deep, can you ever be free?
Touching, surprising and painfully honest, Illegal is the second in a cycle of three novels by Miriam Halahmy, and the follow up to her acclaimed first novel, Hidden.

Ever since baby Jemma died, Lindy's family has fallen apart. Her brothers are in prison and her parents spend all their money on alcohol and gambling.
So when she's offered a job by her cousin, she takes it, desperate to escape. But she's soon in way too deep: her cousin is a drug dealer, and she's caught in the middle. With no way out, she's trapped, caught in a downward spiral…
Until she finds an unexpected ally in the new boy: strange, mute Karl. With his help, can Lindy escape the web she is caught up in?
When you've done what she's done, is being truly free ever an option?
I love emotional contemps, so when Miriam asked me to review this, I couldn't say no! And Illegal did not disappoint! Emotional, powerful and addictive, it had me hooked from page one. It dealt with difficult topics like drug dealing brilliantly, and created a story with amazing and a believable plot. I adored Illegal, and can't wait to get my hands on Hidden and Stuffed (Books One and Three).
Lindy Bellows was a really troubled girl who had too much responsibility, too young. She was tough, putting on a brave face, but she was drowning.  And she was all alone. Her vulnerability broke my heart, and made me just love her to pieces. She'd lost so much, so she didn't really want to let people in and was scared and untrusting of the ones she did let in. She was so vulnerable and broken inside that it was impossible for me NOT to love her.
Karl Reece was strong and cute and sweet and caring and darn irresistible!  To begin with he never said anything, but he spoke volumes with his eyes, eyebrows and face. I loved him! He'd been through so much, and was so clever and oh-so-cute with his "I-love-facts-voice"!
I loved the relationship between Lindy and Karl: it was so natural, so sweet, so real. I just loved seeing how Lindy's thoughts of Karl changed as she got to know him better, going from thinking of him as a "retard" to feeling terrible for ever thinking that. They were so different but so alike and when they were together, I just felt it. They were perfect.
Garth Bellows, Lindy's 19-year-old brother, was someone I couldn’t figure out to begin with.  He was meant to make everything better for Lindy, but he got her the job with Cousin Collin.  But he really came through and tried to look out for Lindy, even from prison.  He was so caring and reassuring and made me and Lindy feel safe.
Cousin Collin Bellows, drug dealer. He was a shady character, tricking Lindy, lying, wheedling his way into everyone's good books. I agreed with Lindy: he was "totally insane".
Jess... When I first 'met' her, I thought she was a total cow: she was horrid to Lindy, vindictive. But towards the end, I started thinking that she wasn't too bad. I think her character can be expanded on... And guess what! After meeting Miriam, she confirmed Book3, Stuffed, will be about Jess: Squeee! Can't wait!
Lindy's family was really dysfunction and broken. Her dad was addicted to gambling, always down at the bookies. Her mum was empty, broken, never doing anything. Her big brothers were in prison, and her younger one was innocent and young and always hungry. And baby Jemma was dead. Although the family wasn't perfect, they were a family. And I could feel it, especially in the very last chapter. I'll miss the Bellows!  I really loved little Sean - he doted on Lindy, worrying if she wasn't in... he was terrified he'd lose her too. He was so clever and so cute and I just loved him!
A huge theme in this book is loss. Both Lindy and Karl lost someone, and it affected them both hugely.  Friendship is another, especially in the unlikeliest places, and about being able to let people in and trust them after having loved and lost before. This in particular, I think Miriam did beautifully.
The writing was brilliant: raw, emotional, powerful. Told in third person, it still really let me get into Lindy's head. I felt everything she felt, saw everything she saw. And it was authentically teen. It was simple, yet emotional and powerful. Just the way I like it!  And the plot was brilliant and compelling, unlike anything I've read before. I've read ones with drugs in, but not ones like this. Not with characters I fell in love with the moment I met them and had me glued to the page so I could find out how it all ended. Although I had a vague idea about what the plot would be like, I really didn't see the twists coming. I loved every second!  
I just adored the setting.  Hayling Island sounds beautiful, and I loved getting to see the huge variety of people who live there. All the little facts and places on the Island just made the story feel all the more real to me. I can't wait for my next Hayling fix!
Emotional, powerful and about feeling trapped with no way out, Illegal was a beautiful and touching story, one that pulled me in and didn't let go, even after I put the book down. I just loved this book. Every. Single. Second. I can't wait to read the others in the series!

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Hidden by Miriam Halahmy

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Meadowside in exchange for an honest review


Vivienne said...

I can't wait to read this. What a fabulous review. I remember Lindy from the first book.

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Viv: Thank you! You're going to love it! It was brilliant! :D

Ebony Black Lines said...

Wow i am seriously impressed with how much u have writtn! ;) i love ur blog and i am a new folower. wuld u mind stopping by myn and mayb followin me back?

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Ebony: Yeah, I tend to ramble! I really must stop myself doing that... Thanks for the follow! I shall return it now! :D

Miriam Halahmy said...

Thanks for such a great review Book A.G. - so glad you liked the book SOO much!! I think you will love STUFFED now - third book - but you will have to wait until next year.

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Miriam: Thank you for sending the book! Next year?! :'( At least I have Hidden to shorten the wait a little! :D

Raimy-rawr said...

wow! I loved Hidden and wondered how Illegal fit in to the series and now I know and cant wait to give it a read! great review!

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Raimy: Thanks! If you loved Hidden, you'll definately love this one! :D