What’s the longest you’ve ever stuck with a series that didn’t grip you? Where you kept picking up sequels despite knowing you were never going to find a new favourite? Or are you one of those incredibly self-aware people who can rest knowing they read book one and don’t need to pick up another book?
Well, I’m at three books now and…in case it isn’t clear, I’m not sure the Haven series is making it to my favourites list.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfectly fine, but knowing there is a finite number of books I can read in this lifetime I think I’d better start being a bit more discerning.
That being said, I did read book three of this series, Deadfall, and I’ve got some thoughts I can share!
Our city. Our secret. Our rules.
The Haven is a secret organisation – run by kids, for kids. But the police are on to them, and Ollie’s friend Lily is locked up in an off-grid, high-security prison.
Ollie and the Haven’s investigations team are forced to choose: do they hide away and protect what they have? Or do they stay true to the Haven’s mission, helping kids in trouble wherever – and whoever – they may be?
It’s a decision that will threaten the Haven’s very existence …
For those who have not yet encountered this series let me give a vague indication of what’s going on. Book one The Haven was essentially a modern-day Oliver Twist, with Ollie finding his new home amongst a group of ‘lost’ children who form The Haven, an institution run by children for children. It’s basically an eleven-year old’s utopia. But things inevitably go awry and by book three there are some serious villains on the scene and things have escalated way beyond the fate of just one boy and we’re now talking about the fate of the entire country, or maybe even the world.
Deadfall, of the three books, has felt the most YA of the series, reminding me of early Alex Rider books, though with fewer ‘spy novel’ attributes. That comparison will be, I suspect, enough of an indication as to whether you will enjoy this or not.
This book is fast-paced and high stakes, which makes for enjoyable reading provided you turn off that little voice in your brain that says ‘shouldn’t someone really be going to the authorities about now, this feels a little too dangerous for children?’ I think that’s the biggest sign for me that I need to branch out of YA thriller (especially at the younger end of YA) because I am clearly too sensible for it! A matter of personal preference of course, but I think the way these children are written makes them feel very young, I’m intentionally using the word children because that’s how they felt to me. Despite these books being marketed as ‘young adult’ I feel the main characters have quite a young voice, which can be a little jarring against the difficulties and dark themes which this book explores.
It’s an adventure for sure, and certainly, I didn’t think that we’d get to a full on prison break situation by the end of book three. It certainly stretches your sense of belief, but that’s a matter of personal preference for sure.
This whole series is solid, that’s for sure, it’s enjoyable writing, likeable characters, terrible villains (I mean their behaviour is terrible), high stakes and children being smarter than adults. I’d certainly recommend it to younger readers looking to move into YA – if you’re a long-time reader they might not pack the same punch, but I can see them doing very well in a school library.
My rating:3 / 5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Deadfall is out now!
What say you? What are some of your favourite ‘younger YA’ books? Let me know in the comments below!