Sketchy By Olivia Samms
Published by Amazon Children’s Publishing
4 out of 5 stars
Released April 30, 2013
Format: eGally/arc (available in hardback and audiobook on release – order yours here)
Sketchy. Ok so I don’t like the name. It sounds like a name that’s been made up when they couldn’t think of anything else. It also sounds a bit shady ‘so and so is a bit sketchy’. But the art work on the proposed cover was good and the synopsis looks good too….
Sketchy is about Bea, a 17 year old (I think- I can’t remember her age being mentioned, but I presumed she was about 17) ex-addict, who has been kicked out of her last private school for being a druggie, gone to rehab and is now being thrown into a state school to complete her education. She’s clean, she’s sober and everything is a little weird. Bea’s an artist, from a family of artists, and since she got clean she’s discovered a spooky talent, she draws what is foremost in someone’s mind, if you’re thinking of a banana, she’ll draw a banana but only if that’s what you REALLY want, if you want a big mac, but are settling for a banana, she’ll draw the big mac (can you tell I’m on a diet here…..). Bea’s not sure what to make of it, so she does what every good teenager should do, and ignores it.
The new school isn’t as bad as she was expecting, she’s found an old friend, Chris from art camp and they soon become inseparable. But then Bea hears about a girl in the ‘it crowd’, Willa, how she was raped and beaten and left for dead a few weeks before, Bea ends up drawing the one thing she doesn’t want to draw, Willa’s rapist. But Willa has a secret to hide and won’t let Bea share the picture with the police, so it’s up to Bea to find him, to prove he’s guilty and to do it all sober.
Sketchy was NOT what I was expecting. It’s DARK, and I mean DARK. Drugs, sex, drink, murder, rape – it’s all there, and it’s not hidden away, its right there smacking you in the face. The book is all the better for it, the story’s good, Bea’s talent could have been pretty damn corny, but its handled well and her reaction to it is good too, she’s not suddenly trying to save the world wearing a cape because she’s got some talent with a pen, she’s normal. There are a fair few twists and although the reader guesses who the killer/rapist is before Bea does, it doesn’t ruin the suspense at all.
I loved Bea and her struggle to stay sober, it was a realistic account of what it’s like (or it’s how I’d imagine it – it’s how I feel about missing chocolate), and her parents are fantastic, I’m sure there is more to her dad and why he gave up drawing, and I’m guessing that will come in the later books, but what I loved was that they were normal, they shouted, they worried, they checked up on her. They were a proper family, which you rarely see in YA fiction.
I know some will have an issue with the book because of its adult content, but it’s not glamourizing the use of drugs, its painting the true, horrible picture of them, and I praise Samm’s for taking that task on.
There really weren’t many negatives, Chris annoyed me a bit – not even the gay thing which was a little forced, but more his annoying need to say Bea in nearly every sentence, we know who he’s talking to, he doesn’t need to address her every single time! Then there were the pictures. WHY oh WHY did we put the pictures in, it ruined the magic and is the single reason it’s a four star not a five. I know what a bee looks like, I also know what a small child looks like, and hands too, I do not need them drawn for me. As for drawing the killer, it ruined my imagined picture of him, I’d say take the pictures out and leave it up to your reader to create the world, not illustrate it for them.
eGalley kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Following a tweet from Olivia Samms, I can confirm that the published hardback does not contain the images I mentioned in the book – which is great as you’ll all have to imagine what the killer looks like now 😀 and there’s a new, improved and slightly freaky cover: