275. Circle 9 by Anne Heltzel

Circle 9 by Anne Heltzel. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 260
Ages: 14+
Finished: Dec. 16, 2011
First Published: Sept. 13, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA, psychological suspense, realistic fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

I wake up and there is a boulder in my skull and a hand on my cheek.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading: The plot intrigued me.

Generally, I think this is going to be one of those books that you either love or hate.  I loved it!  Upon closing the book, I spoke quietly to the empty room, "Wow...that was something." and gave the book a gentle reassuring pat.  This is the story of an episode in Abby's life and then is divided into the following 14 weeks and then the next 30 days.  Therefore normal plot and character development is not followed which may annoy some readers.  However because of the intense focus on this period in time the book's unusual development provokes deep thought in the reader and great suspense in plot.

Sixteen year old Abby wakes up.  She is in pain, can smell smoke and a handsome young man is telling her to hurry up "they" will be here soon.  So together they run fast and far to his glorious cave home.  Here Abby realises she has no memory.  She knows her name is Abby.  Sam is calling her that, it sounds right and she is wearing a necklace with the name on it.  She knows random bits of information, but she has no idea who she really is, where she came from, how she knows Sam, just that they love each other, or why she has nowhere else to be.  Sam continuously reads to her from Dante's Inferno and calls the world outside their cave "Circle 9".  It is a place that she should avoid and never go; it is a bad place and he will protect her.  Abby is happy, safe and sound ... until memories start to come back.  Short and small at first and with very painful headaches.  Then she begins to realise that her world with Sam is distorted, not what it seems.  Something is wrong, perhaps even sinister, and her reality begins to crack at the seams.

A brilliantly written novel.  Incredibly suspenseful.  The reader is as much in the dark as Abby and it is only through careful attention to the details that one notices that what Abby is relating is not necessarily what is real.  That what Abby talks about happening to her is not so innocent as she takes it to be.  The book starts with the incident, though we only see it from Abby's broken mind.  Then the book is divided into two parts, written from Abbie's perspective.  First, the fourteen weeks before she gets her memory back and then the thirty days after she regains her memory.  A fascinating story, highly suspenseful as the truth is slowly revealed and one which creates a lot of pathos for the only two main characters in the book.  I highly enjoyed this read!


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