ARC Review: The Truth & Lies of Ella Black, by Emily Barr

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Author: Emily Barr

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 11th 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 288


Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .


Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

So I should be honest by saying that Barr’s previous novel, The One Memory of Flora Banks, didn’t do it for me. I mean, I liked it and I loved the idea of it but I just didn’t feel like there was anything…you know, spectacular about it. But her second YA novel knocked it out of the park for me. I really adored this one. It’s an intriguing, dark, twisty story of a girl who finds out her parents aren’t her real ones and discovers the horrific truth of her own birth parents.

What I loved most about this was the characters. I specifically really enjoyed reading Ella as a protaganist because she was often prone to making the worst, rash decisions and proving herself again and again to be an unreliable narrator.

I feel super lucky that I got to meet Barr at Deptcon3 and also managed to swipe one of the ARCs of this book.

If I had to pick something I didn’t enjoy about this, it was when Ella was in Rio and the insta-love happened. Like I was not expecting it at all and thought there would be a twist to the story but they supposedly fell in love within moments of knowing each other. I had to roll my eyes at that and every time the love interest had scenes in the book I started to care less and less. That was probably the reason why I’m bringing my star rating down by one. But don’t be discouraged by that one thing. This book is so great in so many ways and will keep you guessing until the very end.


Rating:

★★★★

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks, by Emily Barr

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Author: Emily Barr
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 12th January 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 303 pages

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. 

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

This book really intrigues me from when I first heard about it back sometime in November or December, so I was excited that it was being released so soon in the year for me to get my hands on it. I really liked the idea of this, and how it dealt with the protagonist’s amnesia. I think it was portrayed really well and although it did get really repetitive at points, it actually added to the book because it made Flora’s amnesia really realistic. Also, I think Barr really was capable of capturing what amnesia is actually like and one of my favourite paragraphs that I think sums up the entire book is:

“The inside of my head is out of control. It is on fire. It is snowing. It is a wild jungle. It is an Arctic wilderness. It is everything that has ever happened and everything that ever will happen, all at once.”

I think this really just captures the rush and excitement and craziness of this story. I fell in love with Flora – I think she was a great main character, and very cute and lovely and most of the time I just wanted to reach into the book itself and wrap my arms around her and tell her everything will work out.

Unfortunately, the beginning of the book didn’t sell it for me immediately. The majority of the first half I found to be quite a struggle to continue on with because I found it quite boring. I think I started really to get interested when Flora leaves for Svalgard in search of Drake.

The book’s plentiful supply of plot twists made up for this, however. I felt my jaw was dropped after every second page. A thoroughly enjoying read and one that portrayed a character with amnesia really well.

A strong 4 out of 5 stars for sure!