Surrender

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett.

If you are looking for a dark, deep, disturbing read for teens, look no further.  Hartnett’s latest is a psychological study of a dying boy.  Gabriel is slowly dying and remembers his strange childhood growing up in a small town but being shunned by the majority of the community because of his strange parents.  He lives under their cruelty and does not find freedom until he meets Finnegan, who volunteers to be the bad boy while Gabriel strives to be perfectly good.  Finnegan is a wild boy, who has no family and lives on his own in the forest.  He begins to exact revenge on people who are mean to Gabriel and over the course of several years burns down buildings, sets fire to cars, and eliminates the welcome sign to the town.  He is never caught even though the police and Gabriel’s father, the town attorney, devote years to it.  The relationship between the two boys is always a struggle, and never a real friendship though they are like two sides of a coin.

Psychological thrillers are always hard to review, because they rely on the surprises and twists to be thrillers.  I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot and lose some of the tortured thrill of the novel.  The book reveals its secrets slowly and revels in the twists and turns of the plot.  It is a book that drags the reader into a web and leaves them there, fighting to figure out what is really happening.  I can’t think of another book that does this so very well.

I do need to mention that the writing is exquisite.  Hartnett uses words to hide, reveal, puzzle and shock.  She is a master.  Her art moves this book to another level.  It is a horror of a novel, but written with beauty and art.  A true conundrum that really functions well. 

Recommend this to good readers who enjoy horror or thrillers.  The cover is wonderful and will lead the right readers straight to the book.