Friday, 27 July 2012

The Seeing by Diana Hendry

Publisher: BodleyHead
Format: ARC
Published: 5th September 2011

Number of Pages: 176
Book: For Review*
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Historical, Thriller, Suspense, Action-Adventure, Magical Realism, Mystery, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Swearing, Violence, Bullying
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: Diana Hendry

“I’ve told you.  Philip can see.  He can see inside people.  He can see the swastikas on their hearts.”
1956.  When wild, dangerous Natalie arrives in the quiet town of Norton, thirteen-year-old Lizzie is drawn irresistibly to the girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
As the girls grow closer, Natalie and her eerie younger brother, Philip, reveal a shocking secret.  Philip has a second sight, and sees evil all around – “left-over Nazis” lying in wait until the time is right for revenge.  Natalie and Philip believe it’s up to them to root these people out of Norton.
Lizzie is swept up in what starts as a thrilling game – but the consequences of Philip’s ‘gift’ quickly spiral into disaster.
A chilling, powerful tale from Whitbread Award-winner Diana Hendry.

"Believe me.  Believe Philip.  Whoever he's Seen is a LON, a Left-Over Nazi.  And we'll find him."
The war has been won, peace has been reached and all is calm in the small seaside town of Norton.  People are overjoyed to be living in a time of peace and prosperity.
Well, everyone except Lizzie.  Lizzie, who’s so bored she thinks she’s going mad.
Until she meets Natalie: dark, wild, dangerous Natalie.  Lizzie is drawn to the out-of-control Natalie, and as they grow closer, Natalie reveals something about her strange little brother, Philip: Philip Sees things no one else can, can see that the threat of war is not over.
He can see the “Left-Over Nazis” and it’s up to him and Natalie to find them and force them out of town.
To begin with it’s all a game to Lizzie, but before long Philip’s “gift” starts consequences that spin dangerously out of control…
I've never read anything by Hendry before, but the moment I read the blurb of this book, I knew I simply had to get my hands on it.  It was one of those books you start reading and find you simply cannot put down, no matter how hard you try.  It was dark, addictive, seductive and so much more than I ever thought a 170-something paged book could ever be.  I don't know if you guys have read it, but something about The Seeing reminded me of The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine.  It had the same darkly dangerous feel to it, the same addictiveness.  But The Seeing was better in my eyes, much, much better.  Incredible, actually, even if the beginning was kinda slow.  And, my God, that ending...
I must say, Hendry's characterisation was sublime.  All the characters were so 3D and intriguing.  Lizzie was very much your average teenager, and perfectly embodied how easy it is to get pulled to the ‘dark side’ by boredom or a need for excitement.  Natalie was just… well, intriguing.  Hendry couldn’t’ve written her better if she spent a million years trying.  She was cruel, but she really believed what she was doing.  She was “cold”, “ruthless” and so, so complex…  Philip was the most interesting of the lot.  There was just something about him.  He just knew stuff, stuff he shouldn’t – couldn’t – possibly know.  All the way through, I couldn’t figure out whether maybe, just maybe, he really did have some kinda “second sight”…  Hugo was really sweet and kind; he was probably the most likeable character in the book.  I loved getting an outsider’s view of the trio, seeing them all through his eyes.  While they were all so well written and padded out, obviously Natalie and Philip stole the show. 
The writing was just… whoa.  It was atmospheric, creepy and so much darker than I thought it could be.  And it was all so beautiful: it was like I was there!  I loved that we got to read from each of the main characters’ POVs: it meant we got the whole picture.  As for the story line, I was hooked from the prologue.  I mean, talk about gripping openings!  It was one of those that meant you simply had to carry on reading – putting the book down just wasn’t an option!  The plot was fast-paced, thrilling, with the perfect amounts of suspense, description and dramatic pauses.  As for the ending…  Oh.  My.  God!  Just…  God
I loved doing post-war Britain in history and have always been fascinated by historical fiction set in that time period.  It intrigued me to see the two sides of post-war UK: the rich, prosperous side and the financially struggling, hard-done side.  The post-war pain and fear and damage was palpable throughout the book, especially whenever Lizzies mum was involved.  The Seeing was like a little time machine back to 1956.  I must say, all the themes in this were so much darker than I thought a 176-page-book could have.  One example was the way Natalie and co went about ridding the world of “LONs”.  It was simply bullying, and if there’s one thing I truly hate, it’s bullying.  I actually felt sick to the stomach at some of the things they did…  But that just made the book even better, even more powerful.
This book literally blew me away.  I can’t tell you how powerful and shocking The Seeing was, how addictive it was.  This literally has something for everyone: suspense, mystery, historical setting, contemporary themes, thriller, romance, a paranormal tilt…  As I neared the end, I found myself reading faster and faster and faster, totally hooked, unable to put the book down, not even for a second…  This was such a hard-hitting book, so much so it hurt.  Just… whoa.  I really don’t know what else I can say.  It was just… beyond explanation.  Read it, have your mind blown, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Star Rating:
4¾ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Tulip Touch by Anne Fine

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

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


Cliona said...

'll admit, I didn't want to read this book because of the cover...I thought it looked way too creepy...but I am DEFINITELY getting it now :D Unbelievable review!

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Cliona: The cover is super creepy, and am I the only one who thinks the kid looks kinda like Harry Potter? But the book is amazing - mind blowingly so! But the cover really does suit the book... ;)