Blackbird N. D. Gomes Book Review

Morning Mortals! It’s time for another edition of ‘Judith branches out into contemporary YA because she picked up an ARC at YALC and felt bad not reviewing it’. But that’s not a catchy title so let’s just call this ‘out of my comfort zone’.

Goodreads Summary:

My name is Alex. I am fifteen years old, and I don’t know where my sister is. Or if she will ever come back.

On New Year’s Eve 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead. The same day Olivia McCarthy went missing from a small coastal village in Orkney.

Now Her younger sister Alex is on a mission to find out just what happened to Olivia. But does she really want to know all the answers?

This book was a super quick read so I won’t dwell too long on this review. Also, to review in too much detail would probably ruin the story for you so I will try to stay brief and general.

This is a mystery novel, as the summary suggests, and my main issue was that I guessed the plot twist before there had even been a plot. There are so few characters introduced in any great detail that it’s pretty easy to guess what’s happening without too much reading. Maybe that doesn’t ruin the experience for other people, but if I’ve already predicted something, all the faff in the middle of the book feels incredibly pointless and it stopped me from enjoying this book as much as I might have done otherwise.

What this book does well is it’s exploration of grief within a family and for an individual. I thought it tapped into some familiar emotions and it could help normalise that experience for people going through any kind of similar situation which is no bad thing. There are also some lovely relationships established and explored in this book (and some less lovely ones) so even though there aren’t that many characters you do develop attachments to them.

I was expecting more from the ‘Blackbird’ element since it is such a strange phenomenon but I think it was used more as a hanging device for the plot and for a catchy title than it was for actual plot. There’s no harm in that but the way the marketing leant on that idea was a little misleading.

Reviewing this with my ‘what if I actually read YA contemporary?’ hat on I think this book is perfectly fine. It’s nothing to write home about, it certainly isn’t a ‘must read’ but if you do come across it, it’ll be an entertaining few hours.

My rating: 3/5 stars

I received this book for free from the publisher at YALC2017. All opinions are my own.

What say you (especially if you read YA contemporary normally)? Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments below.


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