Tell me no lies by Malorie Blackman

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Are you a book hoarder? I’m starting to wonder if I might be. I have shelves and shelves of books and a wardrobe stuffed full of the things. At the weekends I often go home to the childhood home I grew up in back in Silverstone, and when I get back I often pick up my old books, turn them over whilst trying to remember what the plot was like or whether I enjoyed the book. I was inspecting the shelves when I picked out this gem, by Malorie Blackman.  I think it might have been a Char book that ended up wedged on mine but I read it on the train home and it was a truly lovely little book. Nothing on the Noughts and Crosses series but something a little interesting for review today.

Gemma and Mike each have something to hide, and when they meet the electricity that sparks between them leads them both to act uncharacteristically, causing each other pain that they will never forget. As the two misfits each begin to face the ghosts that have haunted them for most of their young lives, the emotional scars of two deeply unhappy children are slowly and painfully revealed as their relationship as pursuer and pursued magnifies the hurt to the point of despair.

Powerful, haunting and totally gripping, Tell Me No Lies is an explosive psychological thriller that never compromises, never disappoints and leaves the reader with the uncomfortable and overwhelming impression that there are some problems that can never be completely resolved, but may perhaps become more bearable as time moves on. It is also proof, if proof were needed, that the award-winning Malorie Blackman is a literary force to be reckoned with. (Ages 10 to 13) –Susan Harrison –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

So as the blurb suggests the book follows Mike who is new in school; desperate to make friends, which he ultimately does, he finds himself at the wrath of Gemma. Gemma prefers to be invisible, pretending she is unseen and preferring to spend her time cutting out and collecting images of mothers. However when Gemma recognises Mike in one of her scrapbooks, she decides to use this too her advantage; blackmailing him and causing all sorts of emotional damage. The book spins between the two, who are both hiding secrets about their parents and themselves as this book looks at the danger of bullying, hatred, bribery and friendship all written in this authors compelling style.

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The writing is simple and basic, written for reader 11+ it needs to be to suit the reading age. The description is also less but it works to help push the plot along although it starts slowly. I liked the use of Gemma’s controlling style despite her difficulty to fit in with the other students she has class with. It does feel a little dark in places, especially seen in Gemma’s dominating and bulling fashion, but it also looks at why she is compelled to act in such a destructive way. She’s lonely and tired of being the odd one out, which helps her become closer to her own family as a whole. I thought the tale of Mike, damaged by his abusive and aggressive father and the story of the day that they leave and his father dies was compelling and a strong contrast to Gemma’s tale and both being estranged from their mother’s helped to bring the two together. I thought the mystery surrounding the death of Mike’s father and the location of his mother helped to add to the mystery. The ending wrapped up well and the development of characters is advanced well and they both grow as it continues; it’s a compelling tale.

My only wobble was that Gemma is quite unlikeable ( I know this is a main part of the story) but even in the ending she comes across a little terse. I think she could have blossomed more, but it’s a minor point. Overall as I mentioned it’s not as good as Noughts and Crosses and if you’re looking for a book that’s just as good you won’t find it here. What you will find is well written book with a message. Pretty good.

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