Saturday, 5 September 2015
The Big Lie - Julie Mayhew HOT KEY BOOKS WEEK
A shocking story of rebellion and revelation set in a contemporary Nazi England.
Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?
THE BIG LIE is a thought-provoking and beautifully told story that explores ideas of loyalty, sexuality and protest.
I don't quite know where to start with this review because the premise of The Big Lie completely bowled me over and knocked me out. I can honestly say it's a fresh concept and one which is perfect for the current YA market which is bursting with diverse and challenging books.
Set in an England that lost the second world war and lives under Nazi rule, The Big Lie explores big themes in every sense.
Jessika, the protagonist, is a stickler for the rules. Keen to impress her father who is a respectable member of the community, she lives a life constrained by fear- of contaminated music, of her sexuality, of how she is perceived. She throws herself into ice skating, yet deep down she's battling her sexual feelings towards her best friend.
Clementine couldn't be more different from Jessika. As a political radical who rebels against the propaganda-fuelled society, she looks to be controversial and open the eyes of the passive followers. Clementine was a far more exciting and engaging character than Jessika- I admired her gumption and how she was prepared to make sacrifices for her beliefs.
The Big Lie is a dark and uncomfortable read and I think many readers will get a knot in their stomach as they read- I certainly did. In much the same way as Louise O' Neill's Only Ever Yours, the power lies in how real the situations in this book could be/have been. It's thought provoking stuff.
The biggest disappointment for me was the ending. As I was reading it I could feel myself getting frustrated and I wanted more of Jessika's story to wrap everything up neatly. However, on reflection Julie Mayhew's actually been very clever with it and I've been left with questions about what happened next. I'm torn between admiration and annoyance over it!
Overall, this incredibly powerful read had me considering how different life could be in modern day Britain. Whilst I didn't love it, I've certainly never read anything else like it.
I predict awards for Julie Mayhew on the back of this one!
The Big Lie is out now, published by Hot Key Books.
With thanks to Hot Key Books for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.