“But she couldn’t stop the demons. They’re always lingering in the darkness, ready to snap me up when I’m most vulnerable.”
Author: Zarina Macha Published: 2018 Pages: 226
This book is made up of two novellas: Every Last Thought and Psycho Girl. The first centres around a girl called Tess who has schizophrenia and is in love with her best friend Ed. She struggles to cope with her illness, and despite her parents’ best intensions, Tess turns to drugs and alcohol to help her cope. Her friends Ed and Monique try their best to help her, but she is beyond their reach; will they be able to help her, or will she succumb to her addiction first? The next story is about Evelyn, a narcissist eighteen-year-old who thinks she is impossibly better than everyone else. She looks down on the poor, homeless, and weak and thinks that being a good person is about achieving everything you desire. But when she is rejected from Cambridge University, her whole world comes crashing down. And when another girl from her school is accepted, Evelyn begins a bloodthirsty hunt to make her pay for taking her place at Cambridge.
I was apprehensive about this novel when I received it; I don’t normal enjoy young adult protagonists, so I was worried that I would not like these characters. While I do think some of the dialogue was exactly what I don’t like about YA fiction, overall I do think she created interesting and empathetic characters. Macha chose to take on some heavy themes with this book: substance abuse, mental health, and rape, to name a few, and with so few pages I was unsure how well she could portray them. To my relief, the author handles them with sensitivity and I found that she portrayed them plausibly rather than just throwing around stereotypes. I think literature of any kind which tackles mental health is important, so it was a relief to see how well she had done it.
Overall I preferred the second novella, mainly because I was so enthralled with the protagonist, Evelyn. I was both terrified by her and her capabilities and disgusted by her personality (I hope no one like that exists in real life.) I do think that there could have been even more of a build up though, to make the ultimate crime she commits even more shocking. But the author does do a good job of slowly dropping hints at her psychotic thoughts rather than snowballing it on the reader all at once.
All in all I thought that Macha was a very good writer and managed to get into the head of her protagonists very well. I don’t think the novel was perfect, but I do think she is talented and the more she produces, the more she will excel with her writing. I think there is something fascinating about producing characters who are so unnerving, and yet also sympathetic, and I would be eager to read more of the characters she creates.
Thank you to the author, Zarina Macha, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.