The Special Ones by Em Bailey

I liked ‘Shift’ and the ideas behind it, so when I spotted another Em Bailey book on the shelf at the library I knew I had to give it a stab. Again, it promised another interesting story and I hoped this one was executed just as well – even hopefully better. Which it did deliver.

Esther is trapped in a secluded farm house – forced to live her days as dictated by ‘Him’, mimicking a hundred old image with three other teenagers trapped in this lifestyle. Every day they must completely menial tasks, and in the evening talk to the online community who follow ‘The Special Ones’. If they don’t obey, they’ll be swapped in for another kidnapped teen.

I was most intrigued by the storyline to begin with. I haven’t read a book alluding to a ‘cult’ before (although funnily enough at the moment I am reading Lisa Heathfield’s Seed). The concept is so different to other YA novels I knew it would be a captivating read. The theme of the cult was subtle – it more about kidnap than I had initially realised, and wasn’t explored as much as I was expecting but still gave a good perspective though.

I sped through the book with ease. I wanted to know what was coming next at every corner and once I was half way through the book there was pretty much a new twist every other page. I honestly thought that the book could have been written twice over with the amount of details that could have been explored as there was so much potential and only touched on avenues; ‘His ‘ condition, what was explored in the epilogue…

I thought the characters were believable and were written in a way that made them emotive from the outset. I wanted to keep with ‘Esther’ from the start. However, I wasn’t sure how much I likes Lucille, as she had a complete 360 character changed, which was then maintained during the later interview. Her perspective from the house without Esther’s input was interesting to see though. Seeing different perspectives, like how Lucille and Felicity saw it would have been good, especially was the narrative was open to a change of voice.

Initially, the change of voice was so sudden and this blew me back a bit. I’d become to adjust to Esther’s voice and the writing was good throughout that ‘His’ voice felt this was a bit out of the blue. Although I agree it was needed, this could have been mentioned before maybe instead of just wading straight in

What got me I think the most was what about the people who chatted to them?! How was it OK? How was it not intervened? It alluded to people he knew – was there a way that it could have been outted this way? It just baffled and outraged me. Then again, it could be just another avenue that could later be explored.

I honestly loved reading it and devoured it quickly, but the more I think about it, the more holes I am picking in the narrative and my unanswered questions are growing longer. Still, I’d definitely recommend it.


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