Title: The Deviants
Author: C. J. Skuse
Publisher: Mira Ink
UK Release Date: 22nd September 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary
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?
The Deviants was one of my choices during the Christmas SundayYAthon – it wasn’t originally part of my plan to read this book over the course of the four days, but I’d started it the night before and it was too compelling to stop reading, so it simply had to become one of my choices for the readathon.
When I started reading The Deviants, my initial impression was that it was going to be a classic murder and revenge story – something I thought was a fair assumption as the tagline on the cover referenced revenge and graves, and the description on the back of the book built up a suspenseful idea of secrets and pranks. However, the book was really not like this at all; pranks in order to exact revenge did play a minor role, and the idea of getting caught up in a whirlwind of exacting violence on those they thought needed punishing, were definitely themes throughout, but they felt secondary in my opinion.
The main theme of the book which really stuck out to me was of sexual assault, particularly with regards to that of an adult towards a minor (I would definitely warn that this book could be triggering to those who find it a difficult topic). I was curious, and later shocked, as well as a tad disgusted, by what had gone on. The title of the novel turned out to have more than just the meaning I’d initially assumed – that in their pranks they had deviated from what is considered moral – and become something more sinister. This book deals with an incredibly difficult subject, and at the end of it I felt sad and angry but also so glad I’d read it.
A highlight of the book for me was the characters. I thought the dynamics in the friendship groups were really interesting, and explored really well. The presentation of the different characters, the difficulties they’d had, the struggles they went through – when they were apart, together, inflicted on each other – were portrayed in a way that kept me engaged, and I found myself really caring about the outcome. They were flawed but you could also understand their perspective, and overall I thought they were done really well.
On the whole, I would definitely recommend reading this book. The characters were excellent, it was told in a very interesting format, almost like an interview (something which, for me, only created more questions!), and I found myself constantly eager to read more as the story was intriguing and intense.