Publication Date: 23rd Feb from Bonnier Zaffre (Hot Key Books)
Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.
There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.
But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be. Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.
Close Your Eyes is the story of a school shooting which, through interviews, messages and questionable actions, asks: Who is truly responsible?
I read “Close Your Eyes” in one sitting – this is not the first (nor is it likely to be the last) book I have read recently that has a school shooting at the heart of it – but this one resonated, probably due to the clever plotting and emotional core of it.
We follow a friendship group through the ups and downs of school life, of family, the deeper connections forming, all whilst knowing that things are not going to end well for everyone. I think what I liked most was the depth given to each of the characters – and how, in the end, the author brought a difficult but realistic understanding of why a tragedy unfolded. Nicci Cloke got me invested in these people, in their inner thoughts and feelings and so when things go so horribly wrong there is a real tug on the heartstrings.
It is beautifully written, cleverly obfuscated and purely character driven. It is not about shock value but about personality, events that form us, things that others casually throw out there not knowing the hurt they are causing (or sometimes knowing exactly that) Nobody in Close Your Eyes has entirely pure motives all the time, they are human beings with all their flaws, jealousies and idiosyncrasies – and sometimes that adds up to mental instability and a lashing out. Not always with violence, but this author takes on the nuances.
I thought it was very very good indeed. Because it is an easy read but also an extraordinarily hard one. Addictive and pacy at the same time as considered and intriguing.
Yes. I’d definitely recommend it.
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