Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This is Shyness - Leanne Hall
Author: Leanne Hall
Publisher: Text Publishing
Date of Publication: 2010
Length: 272 pages
From Text Publishing: A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget.
In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night.
But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless…dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.
Lately I’ve felt like my reviews have gotten more and more rambly, so I’m going to try and stick to the point and not be so wordy. That said, I simply adored this book.
Can I start by saying that I’m really glad sometimes that I pick books by their covers – because I picked up This is Shyness and the synopsis seemed a little far-out for me (I know, I’m totally silly and thought it was might be fantasy – can you tell I pretty much only read contemporary fiction? Sad but true), but the cover was so striking and after skimming the first page, I knew that a)I was wrong and b)I had to buy it.
Ok, now by telling that little anecdote I guess I kind of am not following my intention, so apologies – back to srs bsns reviewing.
So the novel is set primarily in the world of Shyness, which is this town of heightened reality where the sun won’t rise in the morning and is home to a host of weird and wonderful characters. Leanne Hall has created some of the most incredible, striking images throughout the novel – like the Orphanage (a derelict housing estate, now home to a fierce gang of sugar-addict Kidds), the Raven’s Wing and Little Death, not to mention the writing is rich with these amazing details, like the Doctor Gregory’s Solution booths. The entire world of Shyness is made so tangible, I love it!
The is Shyness is set over the course of one night (though due to Shyness’s lack of sunset/sunrise, it is extended), like so many other strong YA novels – like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and one of my other recent favourites, Graffiti Moon. Leanne creates a sense of urgency with this style of plot, and for me, it also made for a real sense of promise and excitement.
Onto the characters – the story centers around Wolfboy and Wildgirl (as we will know them for the majority of the novel) and each chapter alternates from their point of view (another stylistic detail I enjoyed greatly). Both characters are engaging and so well-developed. Wildgirl is definitely my kind of heroine – she’s whimsical, yet gutsy and very real. Wolfboy is also super lovely – he’s got this tough'n'gruff exterior, but is still sensitive and quietly charming and I loved the way his backstory is slowly teased out. The characters have a natural chemistry and there’s a great balance of sharp, funny banter and these moments of almost-silence.
This is Shyness has many elements of the classic quest narrative (haha, there was something Goonie-ish almost about it!) and takes the reader on a wild and frenetic journey through a dark landscape. The story completed exceeded my expectations (note to self, don’t be a fool and read more than a synopsis!) and I was so pleasantly surprised with this read. A brilliant debut from a promising new Australian author.
Still not convinced to go read it? There is also an amazing trailer for This is Shyness here. Watch it!