Six by Karen Tayleur

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I got this book in the mail the other day and since I was a big fan of Hostage and Chasing Boys, Karen Tayleur's previous YA novels, I was so absolutely excited to get into Six. Anticipating a book's awesomeness usually doesn't go well for me - if you've got really high expectations, there's a big risk of those really high expectations not being met. Then I started reading. And I was doing other stuff in between - schoolwork and writing and such - but I still managed to finish the book that day. I coudn't go and properly concentrate on something without first finding out what happened in the book. Those really, really high expectations? Met and exceeded.

Six tells the story of six teenagers, beginning in the summer before their final year of school and ending six months later. The story is primarily told in the first-person perspective of Sarah (often with diary extracts), with chapters from her best friend and possible-psychic Poppy, chapters by Cooper (in the format of a script of a YouTube video blog, which is not something I've read in YA before, but worked really well for that character, I found), plus a few third-person chapters offering the perspectives of Virginia (rich and spoilt and a little bit reminiscent of Eliza in Shirley Marr's Fury), Finn (Virginia's ex, athletic) and Nico (also athletic, but troubled). The prologue hinted at the car accident to occur at the end of the book (in a lot of cases I don't like these prologues, but here, it worked wonderfully).

I can imagine that it was a really challenging book to write. It barely hits 200 pages, but within those 200 pages, the characters are perfectly captured. I can't imagine the story being told in a better way. While I loved Sarah, Poppy and Nico, I had a strong dislike of the other three. I don't want to say a whole lot more because it really isn't the sort of novel you can describe, and you'll enjoy it a ton more if you don't know much in the way of storyline before you start it. But I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend it. It's not an entirely nice novel - some bad stuff happens, as you may have guessed - but it is enjoyable, immensely so. It's my favourite of Tayleur's books (considering my adoration of her previous two novels, this is amazingness! amazingocity! amazingtown!).

And I thought about it a lot after I finished reading. And, sure, there might be a lesson in it, but pick it up because it's wonderful and skilfully written and full of characters that you can imagine living in your town. It's one of my favourite books read this year (up there with Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan). It's six shades of brilliant and you'd be crazy not to check it out.
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