MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
'THE MAGPIE SOCIETY: ONE FOR SORROW' - Zoe Sugg & Am McCulloch
A STUDENT FOUND DEAD ON THE BEACH. A WEB OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. SOMEONE POISED TO STRIKE AGAIN. Illumen Hall is a boarding school of tradition and achievement. But tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered on the beach - and on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie. For new student Audrey, it is just another strange and unsettling thing about her new surroundings, along with the secrets the school seems to hide and its weird obsession with magpies. For her roommate Ivy, the death of her friend Lola is just one thing she desperately wants to get past - and having a new student asking questions and cluttering up her personal space is not helping a bit. But the two girls are forced into an unlikely alliance when a mysterious podcast airs, with one sinister headline: I KNOW WHO KILLED LOLA. AND ONE OF YOU IS NEXT.
Honestly, this book was ok. It wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't bad either, it was just ok. From the synopsis I thought it had a lot of potential to be a really good mystery novel. Would I read it again? Maybe, but I wouldn't jump at the chance to re-read it. Am I going to buy the sequel? Yes, because I want to see where the authors take this.
It was named a "nail-biting page turner" by author Jennifer Niven, but I have to say I disagree. I found it a little bit predictable, but that could be because I've read quite a few mysteries before and seen a lot of TV shows/movies that are centred around solving a mystery, therefore there ends up being a lot of similarities between them.
I did enjoy having an alternating point of view, however I thought that the characters were a little bit flat and stereotypical, Audrey more so than Ivy. I felt that Audrey was a very stereotypical American teenager at a boarding school in the UK - she became a very predictable, but also frustrating character. Ivy was crafted better than Audrey in my opinion, which could be due to it being co-authored and each author focusing on one character. Yet, I still found Ivy to be lacking development, perhaps there is more to come in the sequel.
In terms of the plot, again, it was ok. I did think that it was slow to begin with and just frustratingly predictable. For instance, there was a mention of there being a male teacher who was quite young, but then Lola (the girl who died) wrote in her diary that she had 'a thing' with an older guy, but it had to remain secret. It was obviously the male teacher. But then, in the last few chapters it really seemed to speed up, both in terms of mystery and the relationship building between the two protagonists.
It seemed they had spent a lot of time hating each other, to becoming friends, Ivy slowly opening up to Audrey about how she was affected by Lola's death, and then suddenly in the end chapter they have a heart to heart and Audrey just reveals that someone died at a party she held in America. Where did this come from? The dialogue here didn't seem to flow, it felt a little bit wooden and abrupt.
I wish there was more focus on the ACTUAL Magpie Society, which only seemed to be discussed halfway through the book here and there, and only really got investigated near the end. I'm hoping book 2 really delves into this because then it could be a really good mystery.
I'm also unsure of who this book is aimed at in particular. It's classed as YA which I would agree with in terms of the content it deals with (suicide, murder, illicit relationships etc), but then the writing does feel like it's aimed more at a younger audience, leaving me conflicted as to the target readers.
All in all I would recommend this for an easy read; I wouldn't recommend it if you were looking for gripping mystery however.
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