‘CLOSE YOUR EYES’ – Nicci Cloke

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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?

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of CLOSE YOUR EYES for review.

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The synopsis on the back of the book I received was no where near as detailed as the one I above (from Goodreads) so I really had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a school shooting involved – but I didn’t think it would go down the way it did.

I want to start of talking about the different characters. The character I feel we got the most from was Aisha, however, she was probably the most “average” of all the characters. I feel like everyone else had distinguishing features and characteristics and had their own little side stories going on, so I found it weird that the blurb made it seem as though Aisha is the protagonist. Then there’s her twin brother, Ash (confusing, right?) who is all about school and the books and is a bit more shy than her. But they’re super close and hang out with the same friends. Remy and Gemma have been their best friends since they were all young, and I would say they’re the loud ones in the group who made the most noise and got up to the most mischief. And then we have Elijah (Eli) and Elise – once again, really confusing! And both of these characters are developed as the story goes on and we learn more and more about them.

The book is not told in a conventional format; instead the story pans out through interview transcripts, blog posts, journals, messages, and with the odd third person omniscient past tense perspective. Although I found this a little bit confusing in the beginning, once I got used to it I really liked it. Because there’s so many characters who are all going through different things at different points of the story, I thought this was a really intriguing way to do so.

We also have the suspense and mystery of the school shooting. We know from the beginning that it’s going to happen, but we don’t actually get to that part of the story until the very end. I spent the whole book trying to figure out what was going to happen, and I kept thinking that I knew who it was that was doing the shooting, but I was wrong! The last third of the book is so intense that I literally couldn’t put it down – I needed to know what was going to happen! I’ve never actually read a book before that’s based around a school shooting, so not only did I find this scary and emotional, but also quite confronting. It was also different to read about it set in the UK as opposed to the US where most of these stories are set in.

However, there wasn’t just the school shooting involved, there were the events leading up to it that created suspense as they panned out. There was bullying involved, not only amongst the main characters but others as well. It was emotional and eye opening to see the different effects and repercussions that bullying (and additionally with social media) has on kids and teenagers. It was good to see the different circumstances that Cloke used in CYE, including the school shooting, murder and suicide.

The one problem I had with this book was that I found it a bit slow in the beginning and I just couldn’t get into it. It took me a few days to read the first half, not because it was bad or dis interesting, I just couldn’t get a grasp on the story and what was happening. I was a bit disappointing to wait the whole book to find out about the shooting, for it to only happen in the end. It didn’t have the same intensity that I thought it would initially, but it definitely still did leave quite an impact.

 

I highly recommend reading this book if it sounds like something you might like. It’s a touching and eye opening story about the repercussions of bullying, and further highlights the point that we don’t know what is truly going on in other peoples lives, even the ones we are closest to.

 

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