Monday, July 3, 2017

[Review] The Special Ones by Em Bailey

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/06/2016
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Pages: 319
Source: For review
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity

Book Tunes

My Rating
5/5 stars
My thoughts
Dear A @ Hardie Grant Egmont (and everyone else),
I suck.
Sincerely, Cass
This book, guys! This book... *looks away and hides in the corner, curled up in foetal position*

Preface time! I actually requested this book for review, over a year ago before its publication, which the guys over at Hardie Grant Egmont graciously accepted and so I had a beautiful finished copy of my own to drool over! I don't receive any review copies anymore (which is good for my nerves), but even at that time I was barely communicating with publicists. It was only because an email had come in with a list of upcoming titles that I took the plunge and requested this book because I had previously read Em Bailey's Shift {my review} and wanted to try another book by her before casting her away entirely. And I'm so glad that I gave her another shot, but that's not the point here. The point is, I'm a terrible book blogger and I don't deserve new review copies until I've cleared out my to-be-reviewed and to-be-read (TBR 2x)! Please, all of you, just stay away for now. .__. I don't need you added more books to the madness that has consumed my room!

Note: It has been 13.5 months since I read The Special Ones. With only a dot-point, hastily-thrown-together review on Goodreads I'll try my hardest to write something half-way decent here.

UK edition
The Special Ones by Em Bailey gave me the chills, it is seriously one of the creepiest stories I have ever read*. From the synopsis: "Esther is one of the Special Ones – four teens who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to?" So, think of a cross between an Amish cult-like existence and Big Brother.



Bailey's writing was quick to absorb me into the plot. We mostly follow the main character "Esther"'s POV. I loved reading from her perspective, and gradually her fears mirrored my own. This place, this situation was so bone-chillingly wrong. Obviously, her real name isn't Esther, and it isn't until much later on in the story that we finally know what it actually is. Apart from Esther, there is Harry, Lucille and Felicity.

US edition
One of the scariest things was that they all had to perform their duties and pretend that this is who they truly were. Even an unexpected facial expression might be called in for questioning and scrutinised, punishment guaranteed ("renewal") if the offence is severe enough. They aren't even able to talk to each other like normal human beings, nor do they really know who they are: they all have a script to follow and a role to play. "Esther" has a kind of advice column that she checks into every week (?), and I believe she also had a set of stock answers that she needed to provide so that He would be satisfied.

I really enjoyed how the plot unfolded. I wanted to know why these teens were being taken and made to live on this farm and play specific roles and act certain ways. Reading this book was tense, and did I already mention creepy? I was on edge every time that I picked this book up, afraid of what terrible thing was going to happen next. I tried to keep my description of this book as vague as possible, I definitely think this is one of those books where it is in your best interest to go in not knowing too much about what happens.

There is also a romance, if you can believe that. I won't give much away, but I really liked how it developed and all the questions that our "Esther" was turning over in her head also mirrored my own questions. How could you fall in love with someone who is playing a designated role? What if he doesn't love me back, what if he just loves the role that I've been playing?

Also, I just want to add that I'm so glad that Em Bailey's books have been picked up overseas too! It's great to see lots of people from overseas also reading and reviewing her books! 

If you want to read a book that will have you losing sleep, pick up The Special Ones! Disturbing, original and surprising, Bailey's story about four teens living in a farmhouse out in rural Australia under his protection will keep readers on their toes as they discover why they are here, and how it came to be.

* I must admit that it's not hard for this book to make it to the top of my creepiest-books-I've-ever-read list, for I am a scaredy-cat and I try to avoid creepy books as much as possible. That doesn't mean I have avoided them entirely though! (See: Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and My Sister Rosa)


First lines:

"I hear the main gate slam closed, and I just know from the sound of it that Harry has news. He must have banged it really hard as the gate is a fair distance from the farmhouse. He would only do that, I'm sure, if he was sending me a message. He must have finally found our new Lucille.


AUSTRALIA: A&R (via Ebay) | Booktopia

INTERNATIONAL: The Book Depository

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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