A group of schoolgirls go off with two teachers on a field trip to the English countryside. They soon discover that the nearby town offers alcohol, drugs, and sex, at once tempting and terrifying. In this illicit, raw new world, isolated from the larger society and its familiar rules and repressions, some become more vulnerable, others more vicious. There are the almost casual daily cruelties the girls inflict on one another, the dangerous fault lines of their friendships, their insecurities and little shames, the awful power of the "most popular" girl and of the "in crowd." The sexual and social pressures that can break a girl emotionally and even physically and mark her forever are freshly and chillingly observed. Many readers will be reminded of Lord of the Flies. In Special, too, the shell of civilization is paper-thin, and the looming implosion of a tiny society inspires dread.
It is not the unfamiliar countryside but the untried emotional landscape these girls must negotiate that proves difficult and disturbing and leads to a shattering conclusion. This is a spellbinding, haunting novel by a brilliant young writer.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
Bella Bathurst is the author of The Lighthouse Stevensons, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, and of the novel Special. Her journalism has appeared in the Washington Post, the London Sunday Times, and other major periodicals. Born in London, she lives in Scotland.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had very high hopes for this novel. Although it had the basic sex, drugs, alcohol (provided by back cover) theme, I thought it would give me another view on the manipulating and cruel things girls can do to each other. I was hoping the author would go deep into the subject and leave me feeling breathless. But that's not what happened. The characters are very under-developed. I had trouble finding a connection with any of the characters. And it seems that the story line turned into a typical teen novel of girls with eating disorders and self-mutilation problems. I could have purchased a book from the teen section of Barnes&Noble to get that experience.
this novel left me with an overwelming feeling, and i'm not sure exactly what it was but i felt complete after it was over even though not all of my questions were answered.
Special had all the ingredients to be good - interesting characters, a good plot, colorful dialogue... But somewhere, it fell short. While I would recommend this book to anyone who likes these teen-angst-genre types of novels, it isn't at the top of the list. I think the problem was that there was no one to root for. The characters were interesting, but you don't get to spend enough time with any one to feel passionately about her. Still, it wasn't a bad read, easy to get into. It was good enough for me to give Ms. Bathurst another chance, should she take a second shot at writing fiction.