Monday, 6 May 2013

BY ANY OTHER NAME

By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt

New girl, new school, new home, new life - everything about Holly is new. That's the point of witness protection; nobody knows the truth. But one wrong move will put her whole family in danger...

I didn't really like this book. I've been trying to work out why that was, because I was sold on the words "witness protection" alone. I think part of the problem was that the reason Holly was put in witness protection in the first place was completely ridiculous - some Russian mobsters kidnapped and almost killed her friend, the daughter of a Russian diplomat. I mean, what? That's so clich├ęd that I can't even get my head around it.

The next problem, the autistic sister, and I feel like that should be capitalised. There is no reason that I can see for Holly's sister to be autistic. It doesn't advance the plot, it doesn't add depth to Holly's character. In fact, it just comes across as preachy and annoying. And then there's a guy who had his legs blown off in Afghanistan. It's like these characters are simply there to reinforce the "don't stare, don't point" message we all got as kids. And it annoyed me. The book, or I guess the author, assumed I can't handle disabled people, whether physically or psychologically, and it really bothered me. There was no need for Holly's little sister to be autistic, it just seemed so false and awkward. It also seemed to me that the fact that Katie had to go to a special school because of her autism would have made the family a lot easier for the bad guys to find than it actually was. They hacked some girl's Facebook account when they could have just visited every town with a special school. What? No. Just no.

Something that surprised me, though didn't necessarily bother me, was that the book was set in the UK. Actually, no, it did kind of bother me, for the reason I stated above. I know witness protection schemes exist in the UK, but this country's a lot smaller than the US, where I assumed the book was set. Normally, I wouldn't doubt the ability to hide in the UK, but the autistic sister needed to attend a special school. There are only a handful of these schools in the UK (there may be more, but I only did about a minute's googling and my point still stands). There isn't one in every town. The bad guys knew about the autistic sister, it wouldn't have taken them long to scope out each one until they saw her and then follow her home. You could probably do it in a couple of weeks.

So, overall, you can probably tell that I was not a fan of this book. There was just too much that didn't add up or make sense to me, or was so ridiculous that I wanted to throw the book across the room. I can't see myself reading it again or recommending it to anyone else, but if you'd like to give it a try, you are welcome to my copy.



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