Monday, 17 June 2013

Review: Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood

 Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood

Author: Eleanor Wood Website|Twitter
Published: 7 June 2013 (Carina)
Format: Kindle e-book
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Received free copy to review from author/publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
How far would you go to fit in? Sorana Salem is ok with being not quite bottom of the pile at her exclusive private school. Until the mysterious Johansson twins arrive unexpectedly mid-term. Hypnotically beautiful and immensely cool, magnetic Elyse and mute Melanie aren’t like the school’s usual identikit mean girls.Soon Sorana’s sharing sleepovers and Saturday nights out with the twins. But their new world of Ouidja boards and older boys might not be as simple as it seems. And the dark secrets that they share could be about to take Sorana down a path that’s impossible to turn back from…

My Review:
Gemini Rising tells the story of Sorana, whose world is tipped upside down by the arrival of two new girls at her school; twins Elyse and Melanie. Suddenly weird stuff is happening and the social spectrum is changing as Sorana and her friends get caught up in the twins' lives.

I could tell I was going to like this book from early on, because as soon as I started reading it I fell straight in love with the British setting. I love books set in the UK (and don't read nearly enough of them!) so it was really refreshing to dive straight in to a book set in a British sixth form. The scenes were so familiar and the pop culture references were spot on and made me laugh. I think I enjoyed the story even more because of that feel to it.

When Elyse and Melanie arrive Sorana finds herself drawn to them, as does the rest of the school. The twins were these fascinating characters who provide the backbone to the story, even though it's told from Sorana's point of view. I loved how different they were. Elyse was this bold, outgoing, loud character who completely dominates every scene she's in and Mel was really quiet. My curiosity about Mel was piqued all the way through and I couldn't wait to find out more about her because I just couldn't shake that feeling there was more than meets the eye! The story itself is completely gripping because of that constant feeling of there being something bigger going on and it all leading to something, and throughout the book the suspense just builds and builds. 

The characters were the real strength in Gemini Rising and they were all incredibly well developed. Sorana herself is likable and has a great voice that narrates the story. I adored the relationship with her mum and sister as well as her mum's boyfriend Pete. The family dynamic was just spot on! Her mum is slightly overprotective yet they still seem to have a strong bond underneath it. It was interesting to see how Sorana juggled her moral compass when it came to trying to gain a bit of independence.

The book tackles some really great issues and ideas. Elyse is putting a lot of pressure on Sorana and her friends Shimmi and Nathalie, and the things she manipulates them into doing aren't that nice. There's shoplifting, drugs and bullying, but it demonstrated a very realistic take on things like that. I was impressed by how well the author managed to display Sorana getting swept up in these things but without making her a horrible character. Sorana is somebody who gets manipulated and controlled by peer pressure and I think it's a situation she has very little say in. Elyse spends all this time making her feel special and important and I think Sorana is very vulnerable to that because she feels like an outcast. There's a really great line in the book where Sorana talks about finding her "soulmate like friends" and I could completely relate to that desire to want to fit in and have a place in a group of friends, because that's something we've all felt at some point, even if that desire is misplaced.

Another thing I really enjoyed in Gemini Rising was the presence of music within the story. Sorana is obsessed by Trouble Every Day - a local band. I remember what a huge part of my life music was at that age (for me the obsession was Green Day!) and so I was really excited to see Sorana getting excited about gigs and finding other people who loved the band as much as she did. It's only a small detail but I think it was hugely important in creating that completely realistic feel of the book. I also found the focus on astrology really intriguing. Elyse has all this knowledge but the author has done really well at integrating it into the story so it doesn't feel like some sort of astrology textbook. It was interesting without being dull!

It couldn't be a YA novel without a touch of a love story and I enjoyed seeing Sorana juggle her feelings for the two main male leads. There's Josh, a son of one of her mum's friends who she's got history with, and the mysterious Jago who catches her attention. It didn't dominate the story but it was really nicely weaved in. I think because I came to care so much about Sorana I really enjoyed seeing her get a chance at finding a bit of love and attention!

I think Gemini Rising will appeal to a good range of people, from fans of contemporary to those who love a good mystery or thriller. It reminded me in places of Em Bailey's Shift so if you loved that then I'd definitely recommend getting your hands on this one, because I loved it even more. Gemini Rising created the perfect balance of fun characters with great senses of humour, drama by the bucket-full and this underlying tension which made it ultra creepy. Reading it really kept me on my toes and I was so desperate to keep reading and find out just what was going on and about to happen. The ending was a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride that really toyed with the emotions! It's a book I'll definitely be recommending from now on and I hope to see more from this author in the future.

Rating: 5*
Books like this: Shift by Em Bailey

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