So, What is the Opposite of Amber?
review by Maryom
Jinn has always been like a mother to her younger sister Ruby, especially after their mother died. Her sparkling presence fills their house and garden with light, life and colour. Ruby was always the quiet one who never spoke up. Then everything changes - when a friend jumps off the leisure centre roof, Ruby feels her careless words may have pushed him to it but Jinn suddenly has no time to listen. 'Bad boy' Nathan Baird has returned to town and Jinn is swept away by him. Ruby finds she quickly has to come to terms with no longer being the centre of her sister's world and with the things that Jinn is prepared to do to help someone else. Set against a backdrop of serial killer on the loose, this is a moving and sometimes distressing look at the bond and interdependence between sisters.
I've literally just finished reading this and I'm still feeling rather stunned, gob-smacked, by the ending - or not really the ending so much as the build up to it. I took a while to get into the swing of this book, for some strange reason it wasn't quite what I was expecting - I think maybe because the back cover blurb makes a lot of the relationship between the sisters and of the murders happening around town but nothing of Ruby's agonising over Alex's suicide attempt - but after that I was completely hooked.
The Opposite of Amber is a very very different book to Gillian Philip's last, Firebrand, but an equally compelling page-turner. "Coming of age novel" is a somewhat over-used phrase but I find it difficult to describe this any other way. Ruby has always been overprotected, over mothered by Jinn, then, at this point when she needs someone to turn to, finds Jinn has other priorities and that their roles are even reversed, and Ruby must look after Jinn.
While the story is told through Ruby's eyes, I felt as reader I could sit back just a little further and feel sorry for Jinn and Nathan, so obviously deeply in love with each other but with so many things going against them.
Compelling, frightening, occasionally funny, a book to remember long after the last page. As for the title which had me puzzling - what IS the opposite of amber? red or green as on traffic lights? - you'll have to read it to find out!
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Genre - YA
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