Three Australian teens deal with the fallout of their friend’s death.
Ryan, Harley, and Miles don’t have much in common. Ryan is the golden-boy jock, Harley is the school rebel, and Miles is the class nerd. The only common ground these three teens have is their mutual best friend, Isaac. After Isaac dies in a freak accident the trio separately come to terms with what Isaac meant to them and come together to honor his memory. The novel is broken into three sections, each narrated by a different grieving friend. A common thread unites their perspectives: repressed sorrow. After a while this oppressive sadness threatens to sink the book. There are few laughs here but heaps of ennui. The characters are understandably distraught, but the one-note emotional tone gets tiresome. The character arcs are well-structured, and the interconnective tissue is smartly conceived, but it all comes back to these three dull protagonists. Ryan is the most compelling of the three; Miles is a typical nerd and Harley the usual ne’er-do-well. Ryan’s living a double life that crackles with a little conflict to pair with his angst, but his section is up first, leaving readers to slog through Harley’s and Miles’ portions before reaching the novel’s perfunctory end. Aside from the toss-off bit of Inuit heritage in Harley’s background, the cast is a largely white one.
A curious premise dashed by thin characters and a one-note tone. (Fiction. 14-17)