Being new isn’t easy, but when mysterious Jane joins Crossley College you can’t blame the other kids for avoiding her.
Dual authors SL Grey (Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg) have painted a particularly creepy picture of the school’s new addition and you can’t help but want to know what her deal is.
Teacher Tara and handyman Ryan are also intrigued by the scruffy haired schoolgirl. The multi-perspective narrative is written from their points of view, as well as that of Jane’s ‘mother’, Penter. This certainly ups the intrigue when just as one character’s plot peaks, the POV switches. The problem, however, is the leads aren’t hugely likeable or relatable. As you find yourself siding with one, a rather large flaw – particularly in the case of Ryan – is revealed and stops your sympathy dead.
Penter’s a whole other kettle of fish, and unfortunately a breed that’s never fully revealed. Initially, her chapters are ambiguous enough that you can’t wait to read on, but soon ambiguity becomes confusion, as we’ve no idea who/what she is and how she’s connected to the others.
The link’s revealed in time, but these ‘beings’ and their purpose for being ‘upside’ is never fully explored. It seems the authors have dedicated more time to conceiving creepy characters than to fleshing out the plot.
The overall feel is disturbing –in that good, horror read sort of way. Even minor details, like the strange school that bans Harry Potter books, bring on a fresh set of goose bumps. Jane’s use of Americanisms, expletives and gangster slang can be quite comically sinister too, and the generally chilled and robotic personality of this ‘family’ makes them all the more eerie.
It’s certainly unique, it’s just a shame the plot isn’t smoother.