Posted in contemporary, lgbt, review, young adult

Last Bus To Everland – Sophie Cameron

“I think we’re not in the real world any more.”

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Blurb: “Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants. Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again.”

[Ad – Gifted]

I adored Sophie Cameron’s debut Out Of The Blue and so when Macmillan sent me an advanced copy of her new book, I was over the moon.

Everland is a secret world beyond a door that appears at 11:21pm every Thursday and the protagonist, Brody, happens upon it after a chance meeting with wing-wearing Nico. This new location has everything you can possibly think of and is full of people from all around the world. It’s a place that will surely appeal to fans of readers who dream of abandoning the every day for a bit of magic just within their grasp. While Everland was what initially drew me to this book, it’s not what ended up holding my interest. The mantle goes to Brody himself.

Brody is a gay – not out yet- boy who is bullied at his school, under-performing and always second to his intelligent “soon to be a Cambridge student” brother, with a dad suffering from agoraphobia and a mother working all hours to make ends meet. If anything, the discovery of Everland becomes a lifeline for him. But for six days a week he is forced to live this version of his life.

Last Bus To Everland tackles dealing with a relative who has a mental illness, the pressures of under-achieving as well as over-achieving, and poverty. I expected this book to be heavily set in Everland and that was not the case. Everland is almost that physical manifestation of wanting to get away: its inhabitants are all facing issues in their lives and Everland provides that place to escape everything, while also proving that you can leave your problems behind, but they’ll always be waiting when you get back. I love that this aspect gave the platform to round out why all the characters came to this magical place and what led them to discover it in the first place.

Brody is a character that I just felt so much for. I wanted to climb into the pages and give him a hug along with having a stern word with the bullies. He struggles a lot with the weight of the future and feels very much alone: something I’m sure we’ve all dealt with.

Sophie Cameron is a gem of an author. While her story concepts have brought me to both of her books now, it is ultimately the characters I leave thinking about for weeks after.

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Posted in fantasy, review, young adult

Out Of The Blue – Sophie Cameron

“It was our 9/11, our Princess Diana, our JFK. You’d always remember where you were when you heard about Being No. 1.”

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Blurb: “When the angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to Earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted. Not a single one has survived.”

I first became aware of Out Of The Blue when Sophie Cameron was a guest on the weekly Twitter book chat #UKYAChat and was fascinated by the concept. This is a book that captures the reader from the first line, luring them in with little bread crumbs of information building up to the bigger picture.

The protagonist, Jaya, is introduced just as her life is uprooted to Edinburgh for the summer because her father believes that is where the next Being will fall. It was interesting seeing how the world had adapted to these sudden Beings falling from the sky and the various ways individuals reacted made it feel so real; like it could actually happen in our world and this plot is how things would unfold.(My particular favourite was the  angel theme restaurant) I like that there’s no real explanation as to why this suddenly started happening and the readers are really felt to create their own interpretation of what the falls could mean. For example, Jaya links their meaning to the recent death of her Mother.

Through a series of events, Jaya ends up witnessing the fall of a Being that survives and she is forced to hide it from sight, determined to help the creature find a way back home. It was compelling to witness Sophie Cameron weave together a story like this which featured a language barrier and how Jaya was able to build up the Being’s trust despite that block in place. I found it simply hilarious when the Being – soon named Teacake – started to randomly parrot adverts it had heard on the radio.

It’s important to note that Jaya is gay and this isn’t made a big deal of in the story; it’s simply part of her identity. It was interesting to see the parallels between her and her ex (Leah) as it just highlighted the many ways individuals have been affected by the strange phenomenon.

The narrative does lull in the middle as Jaya works out what to do but really picks up in the final third which left me screaming at many pages. Out of The Blue will make readers think about their place in the universe and really how small our lives can be in the grand scheme of things.

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