The Deviants by C.J. Skuse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are a lot of YA contemporary thrillers around at the moment but this is definitely a stand out read. It’s a story about a group of friends and the tragedy and secrets that have driven them apart.
It’s a very twisty tale with a lot of surprises and one huge surprise that caught me completely off guard. The writing is fantastic and the characters so well crafted that you come to really care about them and I was completely invested. There are some slightly creepy moments, a couple of laughs and one part which totally broke my heart.
Definitely one of my favourite books of the year.
Blurb (from GoodReads)
When you set out for revenge, dig two graves
Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.
When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
I read C.J. Skuse’s previous book Monster in August last year and was seriously impressed that she managed to create such a great creepy YA horror story. When I spotted the Deviants on social media I couldn’t wait to get it, headed straight to NetGalley to request and started reading pretty much as soon as I received it.
I have to admit it starts a little bit slow and it did have me a little worried but in a similar way to Monster, it’s a bit of a slow burner. It subtly draws you in to the story and the lives of the characters without you particularly noticing until you realise you’ve been reading for hours and you don’t want to stop.
It’s difficult to say a huge amount about the story as it’s a bit of a mystery/thriller and I’d probably give something away. Let’s just say it’s about a group of five people who used to be best friends and do everything together until something happened and, with the exception of Max and Ella, they went their separate ways. Over the course of the book as they start to come together the secrets that drove them apart begin to be revealed.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was the characterization and the emotion in it. It’s fairly unusual for me to give five stars to a book but when I do it’s usually because it got to me and this book definitely got to me. Not at the start but gradually as I got to know the characters and they became real to me. I felt their anger, I laughed along with them and at certain points I cried my eyes out.
It’s told from the point of view of Ella, who while initially not the most likeable of characters is extremely fascinating. Like the book she did grow on me as I began to understand her and her secrets are revealed in a series of flashbacks. Max her boyfriend was also not that easy to like in the beginning but again a lot of his actions become understandable. Corey and Fallon were much more sympathetic characters. They have difficult backgrounds but are more open and honest than the others which makes them more appealing. They are all at their best though when they are together and they complement each other fantastically well.
The writing throughout is excellent and the pacing is pretty much spot on. The story does deal with some pretty serious issues (which again I can’t really go into due to spoilers) so may not be suitable for younger readers but generally it handles them pretty well. There was the odd bit I wasn’t completely convinced by or which seemed to push things a little too far but these are very minor quibbles and easily overlooked in such an emotional rollercoaster of a read.
As a final incentive to those thinking about reading, it’s absolutely riddled with pop culture references and my absolute favourite character was a total Potterhead so there were quite a few Harry Potter references
‘I thought you were over Harry Potter?’
He glared at me. ‘You don’t ever ‘get over’ Harry Potter, Ella. At best you just learn to live with the fact that f*cking envelope’s never going to arrive’
Overall a fantastic read and definitely one I’d recommend.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s will be available on Amazon UK on the 22nd September.