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In the Skin of a Monster | Kathryn Barker

In the Skin of a Monster

In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker–Published by: Allen and Unwin–Publication date: July 27th 2015–Price: $17.99AUD–Image sourced from Goodreads

Caught in a dreamscape, mistaken for a killer … will Alice find a way home?

Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school … and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; thank you Allen and Unwin.

Many of the YA books around—especially the hyped ones—are written by US and UK authors but one of the great things about being a book reviewer is that publishers love to send me home grown talent and I love receiving it! Being able to read, review, and promote Australian books by Australian authors makes me so happy and it is honestly one of the best parts of being an Australian reviewer. This book is one of those amazing Aussie YA books I am lucky enough to get to review and I can’t wait for you all to read it too!

Setting. Yes, this book is set in Australia, but that doesn’t mean that readers from around the world can’t relate to the characters and themes in this stunning book. What makes this book so special is that as well as being set in a little outback town, much of the book is set in the dreamscape of the town’s residents. Full of dream debris and nightmarish monsters, I loved this unique setting and the world building is perfect!

Characters. I LOVED both of the protagonists/narrators, Alice and Lux. Alice is so raw and it was amazing to put myself into her character and experience the confusion and pain that her sister caused three years ago. I love books that show the struggles of people—even if they are fictional—and books like this are so special because they help to develop empathy in readers and then readers can apply this in their own lives. Lux is also an interesting and complex character. I really enjoyed the twist where it reveals how Alice, Lux, and Alice’s twin sister are all connected.

Plot. The synopsis is quite misleading; this book is NOT about a school shooting, but is about trying to understand the awful things people can do, especially by those who were closer to offender. And it is a journey of self-discovery. The beginning is very confusing; however, it is important to the story that you discover and come to understand along with the protagonist, Alice. There are still many questions left unanswered at the end of the book, but I think great books like this should leave you wondering and thinking about the book long after you have closed the cover.

Writing. This book is narrated in duel perspective by a male and female character. I really enjoyed this as you get both sides of the story and you can see how misunderstandings occur. My favourite aspect of the writing is how the protagonist Alice addresses her twin sister, the schoolgirl monster, even though the sister is never named and she cannot possibly respond.

Overall, this is such an incredible, unique read and it is definitely worth persevering through the first few chapters to the gem of book.

4/5 stars

Recommended to: Fans of quirky books and those interested in the psychology of characters.

Please Note: all opinions are mine and are not endorsed with any company or organization. 

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