Title: The Yellow Room
Author: Jess Vallance
Publisher: Hot Key Books
UK Release Date: 28th July 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Sixteen-year-old Anna receives a letter from her father’s girlfriend telling her he has died and asking to meet. Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which her own mother is seemingly incapable of . . . and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her.
A tautly told, compelling tale about mothers and daughters and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.
When I started to read this book, I was actually pretty excited. In the October of 2016, I bought and read Jess Vallance’s other novel, Birdy, because I knew she was making an appearance at YA Shot and I wanted to have a copy to get signed. I absolutely loved it, and it ended up being one of my favourite books of the year. I can find it quite tricky to track down good psychological thrillers within the YA genre, so I was pleased to have found an author that wrote excellently. However, much to my disappointment, I didn’t enjoy The Yellow Room nearly as much as I enjoyed Birdy, although I will still read any other books that Jess Vallance writes.
My main issue with this book was that it felt a little too unrealistic for me to truly enjoy it. I am well aware that psychological thrillers aren’t always entirely realistic – I don’t think that’s really the point of the genre – but this book just jumped too far from reality. I could sort of understand why Anna was so hesitant and scared around her secret, but when it started getting a lot more serious, I just thought it started to border on ridiculous. Leon, as well, I found a bit silly, and the sinister nature of their interactions felt creepy initially, but, again, I thought it started getting ridiculous – especially his really weird comments about how she’d make a great wife (the characters were fifteen/sixteen).
I also found the ending to be frankly a bit anti-climactic. I don’t know if my expectations were too high because of how much I’d enjoyed Birdy, and because of how clever and dramatic the ending was in that book (seriously, it had one of my favourite plot twists ever at the end), but in comparison The Yellow Room was disappointing. I wouldn’t really call what happened a big twist in the same way; there were surprises, yes, but it was more like there were a few mini twists, and Anna was given a warning that she ignored, but somewhat gave away roughly what would happen. It was rather creepy though, I will say that.
However, there were good points to this book – it wasn’t just all bad, although I may have made it sound as if this is the case. I really liked how it had a single-parent family, and the reason that Anna’s relationship with her mother didn’t work was because of her mother’s focus on her work, not because there wasn’t a father around. It was definitely a nice change to see a successful single-parent family! I also loved her friends; I thought that Sienna and George were absolutely hilarious, and when there were lighter moments with them and Anna, it was a joy to read. I liked how Edie and Anna had a really good relationship as well, and how Anna could trust in her like a mother or a best friend – it was just the way things went from there that put me off.
Overall, I do think that on the whole Jess Vallance has managed to write another creepy book, with an excellent cast of characters. However, I just found the plot a little too far-fetched and slightly ridiculous, and this stopped me from truly loving the book as I’d hoped.