DAMES REVIEW: 3 years ago, Holden Sheppard released Invisible Boys - a powerful young adult novel about 3 very different young men growing up gay in Geraldton. It was a book that was incredibly difficult read for all the right reasons, and to finish it was a cathartic boost of life. It’s gone on to be one of my personal all-time favourites, and for very good reason.
So, after leaving us waiting for all this time, how does Holden top that?
The Brink is about 3 high schooler’s Lenardo, Mason and Kaiya on leavers week, where they all end up on a secluded island just off the coast of Western Australia. And the shit just hits the fan!
I fucking loved it.
This was another single-sitting read for me.
I was given a advance copy months ago, and from that I was promoting it as ‘Invisible Boys ran, so that The Brink could absolutely fucking sprint!’
I absolutely stand by that. And I am so proud to support this book, and so pleased I was able to get my paws on this early.
I’m also glad I recently listened to the audio production of Invisible Boys. So that I could compare the two works.
Invisible Boys remains my favourite. There was never going to be a chance of this beating that for me on a personal level.
Personal feelings aside, this is a better book on every level. The emotional roller coaster this book takes us on is so well done. It goes from nerve-wracking, to fun, to fear, to chaos, unpredictably and frightfully. I couldn’t have guessed where this plot was going!
Character-wise, my favourites were Leonardo and a certain redhead side-character called Brayden. You’ll see why.
Leonard was m the character I related with the most. His journey to find himself and move past his fears resonated with me.
It’s spoilers to say what, but as someone who’s been through part of the journey that Leonardo find himself on by the end of the book, holy fuck did Sheppard nail that!
Although the story is told from 3 view points, I felt that he’s the main character.
Themes that stood out for me in this book are friendships, new starts, stereotypes, loneliness, classism, bullying, and above all, healthy vs unhealthy masculinity.
Yeah! A lot happens in this book.
OFFICIAL BLURB: A group of school-leavers- free at last, ready to party, expectations high. And even though a remote island on the Western Australian coast wasn't exactly the plan, they're not going to let that hold them back.
Leonardo, geeky, asthmatic, shy and prone to anxiety, has landed with them. He's terrified-he's definitely not part of this cool gang. Super high-achiever Kaiya is trying to forget her frustration with her drug-addicted sister as well as dealing with pressure from the popular girls to lose her virginity. Mason, footy jock with the physique to match, is coming to terms with his secret desire for his best mate, Jared. And Jared wants a week off from his relationship with Val so he can have sex with as many girls as possible.
But the party takes a dangerous turn when Val is drugged and a man is found dead on the beach. Blame, fear, mistrust, coverups, power plays and dark secrets tear the group apart and expose the deadly tensions beneath the surface. And each teen is forced to confront demons that will lead them either to devastating tragedy or transformative triumph.
Whoever survives the week will never be the same again.
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