What: Black by Fleur Ferris
Who: Random House Australia
When: July 22nd 2016
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Penguin Random House Australia for review.
Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too.
Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed.
Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way.
But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge.
If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?
I had heard quite good things about this author’s other book, Risk, so when I found out that Black was a mystery/thriller I instantly wanted to read it. My favourite genre, yo! I am insatiable when it comes to mystery/thrillers, and Black had everything going for it: interesting premise, freaking amazing cover, and an Aussie author.
Unfortunately, when I got around to reading Black, it didn’t quite have everything going for it.
I had a hard time reading the first half or so of Black. I felt like there wasn’t enough mystery or thrills to really keep me reading. The writing style was very simplistic, and even though almost all the important characters and their relationships with Ebony were introduced in this time, I didn’t feel like I got to know anyone at all, including the titular character, Ebony (or Black as she is known to the town).
I felt like there needed to be more lead up to almost everything that happened in this book. From the first page, one of the love interests is flagged (and let us not forget his use of the word “gays”), and Ebony starts to have dem feelz about him from then on. I wanted more of a lead up to this. Some crushing time on Ebony’s behalf, some get to know each other dates. But it was just: hello nice to meet you let’s go to prom and make out yeah? I was never invested in this romance, or the love interest – even when he was in a coma.
Ebony’s been bullied and ostracised because three friends of hers have died. Her ex bestie is suddenly in some weird kind of group and spreads shitty rumours about her whenever she wants to, really. And apparently likes the same boy. Why weren’t they besties anymore? What actually happened between them? What about some more information on the creepy group? I wanted all of that, and more.
Enter absent father and question-avoiding mother. I felt nothing for Ebony’s mother, so when she came to be part of a pivotal plot arc later on in the book I didn’t really understand, except beyond the basic “she’s my mum” aspect. And also: second love interest. Who Ebony crushed on for about a year, and then suddenly uncrushed on (off? Who knows). This guy obviously has feelings for Ebony, and Ebony obviously has feelings for him, so it was quite obvious which third of the love triangle was going to suffer here.
Apparently Ebony and Ed (second love interest) are super duper good friends, but I didn’t see any of that. I kinda thought Ed was super immature and a bit of a creep, and totally expected him to come out evil at the end of it all, if I’m being honest. He seemed to pull the “oh I’m three years older than you and therefore know better and I will tell you how to correct your immature teenage mistakes” card a bit, and I was 100% not a fan of this.
The second half of the book was better. It was where the mystery/thriller part of the story came in, but unfortunately I didn’t really care about the outcome because I didn’t care about any of the characters involved. I thought that the storyline was creepy and intriguing, and I wanted to know what was going on because things got hella intense hella quickly. The intensity and depth of the plot in this part of Black was what I had wanted all along. The writing style was engaging and I got to know more about Ebony’s character in the last few chapters than I had in the previous two thirds of the book.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed in Black, because I had been so excited for it and wanted it to turn into a beloved mystery/thriller. The premise was great, but I just wanted more. And I only want more of something if I like the bones of what is already there. I say that if you’re looking for a book so you can dip into the mystery/thriller genre for the first time, Black is probably a good fit.
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