Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review - Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Charm & Strange

Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Published: June 2014
Paperback - 224pgs

No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself. But he’s also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him.Sensitive, yet confronting. Unsettling . . . and utterly enthralling. Unlike anything you will have read before.

In an act of full disclosure I won a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin and Goodreads. Thank you to both of them for the opportunity to read this book. 

Don’t worry about the synopsis or the tags on this book. It is better to go into this book without knowing what’s coming. This story is confusing, sometimes incredibly sad and a very interesting thriller. I really ended up enjoying it. It is unlike anything I have read before, and unexpectedly I finished it in one sitting. 

From the outset you can see there is a serious problem with the narrator, but without more information it is impossible to distinguish real and not real. Kuehn did a masterful job leading the reader through this dark and disturbed teen’s mind. There are so many questions about Drew/Win that seemed to press on me throughout the book. Why is there such a huge difference between Drew/Win? Is there any paranormal aspects to this book? Is it all in Drew/Win’s head? It was frustrating and not what I expected when I started this book. 

I suspect there will be quite a few people who give up on this book because of the confusing start and slow revelations. There was a point about 50 pgs into this story where I was staring at the page thinking Where is this going??? Do I want to keep reading this? Then, very slowly, things started to be revealed and I found myself completely absorbed in this story. 

I would encourage you to get make it past the confusing moments. There is a large chunk of the book where the reader is completely in the dark, but the ending is what makes this book an incredible piece of writing. I was left with my mouth hanging open at the end and actually reread that last few pages a few times just to try and wrap my mind around it. It blew my mind and made me very interested to see what Stephanie Kuehn will come up with next.

Rating: 4/5 

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