Published: July 5th 2012, Bodley Head
Pages: 176 pages, ARC
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): "What gave me a sudden shiver was the notion that there were two of me. The little sister me, who was good and mostly kind; the girl Alice and Dottie knew. And then there was this other me, the one lurking inside me, eager for danger and risk, for something that could be as wild as the sea in winter. For Natalie."
Nothing ever seems to happen in the quiet, respectable seaside town of Norton. The war is over, and everyone's thrilled to be living peacefully - everyone but thirteen-year-old Lizzie, who's so bored she feels like she could scream. Until wild, dangerous, break-all-the-rules Natalie arrives. Lizzie is drawn irresistibly to the exciting new girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and as the girls grow closer over the summer, Lizzie discovers a new side to the town - and to herself - that she had never imagined before.
Natalie and her young brother, Philip, let Lizzie in on a secret. Despite what everyone thinks, the danger of war is still hanging over them. Philip has a 'second sight', and all around him he sees evil: apparently innocent people, hiding in this quiet town until the time is right for revenge. Natalie and Philip call them 'Left-Over Nazis'. It's up to them to root these people out and force them out of Norton. Lizzie is swept up in what begins as an exciting game, but as the children begin to target their neighbours, the consequences of Philip's 'gift' spiral quickly out of control.
A chilling, powerful tale that will linger with you long after the final page, from Whitbread Award-winner Diana Hendry.
My review: It was like Long Lankin all over again, seriously. Those Random House girls really know how to build excitement about a book. Two RHCB blogger brunches ago I first heard about The Seeing. I knew I would love it from the moment I first heard about the story. I'm a massive fan of anything creepy and I love stories that can get inside my head and stay in my memory long after I've finished reading. After pretty much an entire year of waiting to finally get my hands on this book a review copy arrived and I read it there and then, the day it clattered through my letter box. Honestly, I was blown again. It absolutely made me stop in my tracks and pay attention to it and I really can't recommend this one enough.
Hendry has such a way with words and she managed to truly creep me out throughout The Seeing's relatively short page count of 170. It's easy to read this one in a single sitting and the story is so much darker than I initially thought it was going to be - particularly that ending, wow! I love that the reader goes on the journey right alongside Lizzie. When Lizzie is seduce by Natalie's rebellious personality, so are we. When Lizzie begins to realise something about Natalie and Philip is a little bit...off, so do we. When Lizzie finally realises, with horror, exactly what is going on, so do we. I loved that I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end and with every chapter we learn something new. The pacing is perfect here as well, with highly dramatic moments broken up by some gorgeous prose and description of the seaside town Lizzie calls home.
The setting in The Seeing is great, too. Set just after the war in a little seaside town, Hendry creates such a visual world for her story. I could see Lizzie's house, the beach, Natalie's house and Hugo's caravan so clearly in my mind. The Seeing is set in such an interesting time in history and one that we don't see explored too often in YA. The fear and uncertainty that lingered after the war is subtly present in the story, particularly in the actions of Lizzie's mother, who was a great character.
Natalie and Philip are two of the most interesting characters I've come across in a long while. I read The Seeing well over a month ago and both of them are still so clear in my mind. Natalie is truly creepy but also damaged and vulnerable, too. She has a cruel streak that has undoubtedly arisen from her difficult upbringing and it was only as the story developed I began to realise exactly how traumatic her childhood probably was. Hendry did a great job with the scenes centred around Natalie's family and they definitely help the reader understand why Natalie is the way she is. Philip, of course, is a true enigma but I found him absolutely fascinating, if a little unsettling.
I can't possibly finish this review without mentioning the ending of The Seeing in a little more detail. Obviously I'm not going to give away a single detail but, seriously, I think this is one of the most dramatic and shocking endings I've ever read in a novel, particularly a YA novel. It came completely out of the blue and I definitely didn't see it coming but it was perfect, absolutely the right way to end the story, even if it was a little difficult to read.
I honestly can't heap enough praise on this book. It's definitely my favourite read of 2012 so far and I'm so happy that I loved it as much as I thought I would. I haven't read any of Diana Hendry's books before but I'm certainly going to work my way through her backlist now. Please, please hop over to Amazon as quickly as you can and pre-order a copy of this absolute gem - I promise it will blow you away!
First line: 'The pills don't help.'
Read if you liked…: Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough
Total: 18/20 (A)