Received from NetGalley for review.
Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.
V for Violet is an all-round superb young adult novel, set in 1960’s Battersea. It centres on Violet, a brilliant but sometimes obnoxious sixteen year old, who is stuck in her father’s fish and ship shop. She wants more, she wants excitement and to be able to follow her best friend Jackie into a different world, a more grown up world.
I absolutely loved this book; it got under my skin in unexpected ways. I loved Violet, I loved the romance, I loved the murder mystery, I loved the tension. One of the best things about this book is that is brings together different genres seamlessly – coming of age, murder mystery, romance. Each aspect of the story works really well to create a gripping and fast paced plot.
We know from the blurb that Violet’s world is turned upside down when her long lost brother, presumed dead in the war, returns home – he’s a complete stranger to her and she has to deal with an underlying hatred for the ‘golden boy’ she never knew and could never live up to. Her mother and older sister are overjoyed at Joseph’s return, her father is ashamed that he was a deserter not a hero, and Violet is stuck in the middle of it all not knowing what to do with this stranger. Rattle has dealt with the familial tensions and issues really well, and the development of Violet and Joseph’s relationship was something that I really enjoyed. When Joseph returns to Battersea young girls start disappearing and then turning up dead, and Violet doesn’t think is a coincidence – she’s sure her brother’s hiding something. The mystery of the murderer’s identity creates a tension that doesn’t let up until an almighty twist at the end of the book – every time I thought I had it figured out something new was thrown at me.
The characters were wonderful; they felt so real and it was a vivid experience being part of their lives. The protagonist Violet really grew on me, although she could be obnoxious and selfish to begin with – she’s very clever and feels that everyone else is just blind to the world and doesn’t care about her – in classic coming of age style she finds herself and her place in the world. She feels like her best friend Jackie has left her behind – going to work in the sugar factory, finding new friends, make-up and men – and Rattle explores the way their friendship changes extremely well; it’s always hard when a long friendship starts to change and people start going in different directions. The romance is done well and never feels like it overwhelms the story (Violet and Beau were SO cute).
This is my first experience with Alison Rattle’s work but it definitely won’t be the last. Her writing style and the way she crafts characters is excellent, and I’m excited to read more of her books in the future.
Read: March 26th 2016