When checking out this month’s ARCs from Hot Key Books, I was instantly struck by the synopsis of Birdy. It really sounded like something that I’d like, especially given how much I really enjoyed Dangerous Girls and Far From You.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to review Dangerous Girls yet, but just know that I loved it, and have recommended it to a few people already.
In any case, for me, Birdy looked like a winner, given that it deals with the same kind of close female friendship that plays such a prominent role in Dangerous Girls and Far From You, one which verges on obsession. Thus, when I got it, and tore through it in two days, I was far from disappointed.
A darkly compulsive tale of friendship and obsession.
Frances Bird has been a loner for so long that she’s given up on ever finding real friendship. But then she’s asked to show a new girl around school, and she begins to think her luck could finally be changing.
Eccentric, talkative and just a little bit posh, Alberta is not at all how Frances imagined a best friend could be. But the two girls click immediately, and it’s not long before they are inseparable. Frances could not be happier.
As the weeks go on, Frances finds out more about her new best friend – her past, her secrets, her plans for the future – and she starts to examine their friendship more closely. Is it, perhaps, just too good to be true?
I seriously enjoyed this book. I knew I would, from the synopsis, as I enjoy the darkly gritty examination of where friendship crosses the line into something more sinister than that, so when I sat down with Birdy on the tube one morning last week, I had pretty high expectations. But they were met.
To read that this is Jess Vallance’s first novel was a little surprising, because the skill and depth of writing is immensely satisfying to read. Birdy and Bertie’s friendship is intense, compelling, and incredibly realistic – I can remember being a teenage girl and developing that same kind of incredibly strong bond which you think nothing will ever sever.
Vallance’s depiction of the English high school is also satisfyingly accurate, with the resonating descriptions of being the nothing girl on the sidelines resonating strongly in my heart, before depicting the heady thrill of having a best friend who you think really connects with you in every way that matters.
Birdy as a narrator was unreliable and reassuring at the same time in a way which I really enjoyed in Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Dangerous Girls – as the novel rushed toward its spine-chilling climax, I was eagerly turning pages to see if I had pegged who was behind the increasingly cruel tricks, and the disastrous consequences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from its quiet, unassuming beginning through its increasingly intense middle, and up to its obsessive climax and startlingly cold finale – Birdy and Bertie were two really well-written, if not always enjoyable or likeable characters, and the feeling of really being inside Birdy’s head was one which I couldn’t help but enjoy.
A tense, creepy, and thoroughly enjoyable account of the intense and unsettling nature of teenage friendships and obsessions, I thoroughly recommend Birdy.