Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: Brother/Sister, by Sean Olin

Brother/Sister is just creepy. That’s the best description I can come up with. The story is told in alternating chapters by Will and Asheley, who are siblings.

They are obviously separate from each other and worried about each other as they tell their story to some authority figures, presumably the police. The first thing we find out is about a badly decomposed dead body recovered from the ocean. 

These two teens’ lives have been far from normal. Their father left when they were very small, and their mother is an alcoholic who has been in and out of rehab many times. Will is socially inept. He’s a loner and is bullied at school. Asheley has tried to look out for Will, and recently he has had some acceptance from his peers.

As their mom is once again taken to rehab, Asheley and Will are left to fend for themselves in their luxury home on the coast of Morro Bay, California. I really don’t want to say too much about what happens. This is a psychological thriller, and as we hear these kids tell the story, we realize how disturbed these young people are—Will in particular. Suffice it to say, bad things happen, and as often happens when trying to cover up a mistake, more awful things happen, especially when the perpetrators minds are warped.

I did have some issues with parts of the plot.  Some events and situations were a little too convenient, but used to accommodate the story. It seems like there were some opportunities for creativity that were missed at times. There were few adults in the story. With the exception of their mom’s boyfriend, Keith, the teens in this town were the only ones the reader ever hears from. Asheley has no boss at work. The softball and golf teams have no coaches. The events in the story should cause parents to be in an uproar, but we are left in the dark. It just seemed unrealistic and made the story feel forced.

You can’t help but feel for these teens. They are just so hopelessly screwed up, I guess I never really felt very optimistic, but I had to finish the story to see how it all turns out. But how does it all turn out? Read to the last sentence---and then you tell me how it all turned out.

Olin has written this for teens, but I think it would only appeal to those teens who have sophisticated enough reading tastes to appreciate the slow progression of a psychological thriller. Not every teen will enjoy this, but it does have crossover adult appeal, for just that reason.

Published by Razorbill, June 9, 2011
ARC received for review from LibraryThing and the publisher
242 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. Sounds like a disturbing read! I think the premise is interesting but I can't make up my mind whether I want to read it because of the problems you mentioned, especially the unrealistic events.

  2. I'm sorry you didn't like this book much. And here I am thinking it would be really awesome. But I still am curious about the whole story, now that you mentioned it was disturbing - I love disturbing!

    Awesome review, as always :D Thank you for sharing!

    Brush Up On Your Reading

  3. Want to read this one now-- I like the idea of the mystery and, yes, the psychological weirdness. Thanks for the review, and sorry it wasn't quite your thing. :)


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