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Three years ago, Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She's struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can't get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is Three years ago, Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She's struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can't get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she's trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school ... and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most.


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Three years ago, Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She's struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can't get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is Three years ago, Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She's struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can't get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she's trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school ... and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most.

30 review for In the Skin of a Monster

  1. 4 out of 5

    Figgy

    Links updated Kathryn offers some insight into her writing process, her début novel, and why she chose not to share Alice's sister's name with readers. You can read the full interview here. This book is part trying to understand the awful things that people do, even those who were closer to you than anyone else. Is that what it felt like for you when you put the gun into your mouth? When you turned it on yourself after killing the others? When you brought the death toll up to eight, not that your de Links updated Kathryn offers some insight into her writing process, her début novel, and why she chose not to share Alice's sister's name with readers. You can read the full interview here. This book is part trying to understand the awful things that people do, even those who were closer to you than anyone else. Is that what it felt like for you when you put the gun into your mouth? When you turned it on yourself after killing the others? When you brought the death toll up to eight, not that your death ever counted? When you pulled the trigger that time were you still not scared? Was it as dull as jumping the goddamn crevice? Part trying to work out who you are, and moving on from awful things that people see when they look at you. And just like that he’d raised the forbidden subject. Back home, nobody ever talked about what had happened. That day three years ago – it was like this big, deadly elephant in the room. They’d say it with their eyes and their spit and their hate, but never with actual words. Hearing it out loud, I don’t know whether it was a relief or a new kind of torture. Either way, I’m pretty sure that I was shaking. And a little bit Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. Just for the record, I didn’t have one of those lame ‘Am I dreaming?’ moments. I didn’t pinch myself or rub my eyes like a cartoon character to see if that would fix it. I don’t know why they even put that crap in movies. Just because you can have a dream and not realise you’re dreaming, that doesn’t mean it works in the reverse. When you’re awake and bad things are happening, deep down you always know that it’s for keeps. The rest of this review can be found here!

  2. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    DNF I just wasn't a fan, it was confusing as hell and I was v bored :( DNF I just wasn't a fan, it was confusing as hell and I was v bored :(

  3. 5 out of 5

    TL

    "When I saw you freaking out it all fell apart a bit. People are never more human than when they're downright terrified. I discovered that for a fact, when you did what you did." And just like that he’d raised the forbidden subject. Back home, nobody ever talked about what had happened. That day three years ago – it was like this big, deadly elephant in the room. They’d say it with their eyes and their spit and their hate, but never with actual words. Hearing it out loud, I don’t know whether it "When I saw you freaking out it all fell apart a bit. People are never more human than when they're downright terrified. I discovered that for a fact, when you did what you did." And just like that he’d raised the forbidden subject. Back home, nobody ever talked about what had happened. That day three years ago – it was like this big, deadly elephant in the room. They’d say it with their eyes and their spit and their hate, but never with actual words. Hearing it out loud, I don’t know whether it was a relief or a new kind of torture. Either way, I’m pretty sure that I was shaking. We've all got good in us and bad in us, and miles of murky greyness. I suppose the difference is what you choose to focus on. What was your last feeling before you pulled the trigger? Were you pleased or horrified? Did you feel like a monster? Was pain the last thing you felt in life? The night before you shot up our school, I slept like a baby. So much for twins having some kind of mysterious connection. I was probably dreaming of fluffy bunnies, or something stupid, when you crept out of our bedroom and nicked Dad's gun. A compelling and fascinating story with a few twists and turns I didn't expect. The chapters with Lux were confusing at first, I had to flip pages back to see who had been speaking. Once I got used to his narration though and the world he was in, I started looking forward to his chapters more. Parts of this do have a "Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole" feel to it. For awhile, I wondered if Alice had cracked and we were inside her head. This "dream world" had an unreality feel to it, while at the same time felt real. I could picture it all playing out in my head, even down to Ivan. Alice's sisters' name is never mentioned but I never missed knowing it, if that made sense. We still get a sense, as much as we can, for the things that have happened. I wanted to give Alice a hug at times and take her pain away but her journey in coming to terms with what happened and how to deal with it and live her life had me feeling proud of her. By the end of it all, she isn't magically "fixed" or "happy and over it all" but she is trying her best... all that matters in the end of it. For this portion anyway. Suspicions about Lux I did have, only for the truth to be only a part of what I thought. No spoilers of course but it did throw some things regarding Alice's sister into focus and got me thinking on a couple other things. Would recommend, very glad that I found this book :) Interview link (nicked from Figgy ;-) here: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/in...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nomes

    In the Skin of a Monster is stunning, deliciously off-beat and totally absorbing. Completely unlike anything I was expecting or have read before and, even once I found my footing and got into the groove of the world, Barker still managed to twist things around until I was left with an unexpected lump in my throat and tears down my cheeks. I didn’t read the blurb of this properly (common habit with me, I skim and dive in). I thought this was a contemporary novel -- but it’s a more genre-defying, In the Skin of a Monster is stunning, deliciously off-beat and totally absorbing. Completely unlike anything I was expecting or have read before and, even once I found my footing and got into the groove of the world, Barker still managed to twist things around until I was left with an unexpected lump in my throat and tears down my cheeks. I didn’t read the blurb of this properly (common habit with me, I skim and dive in). I thought this was a contemporary novel -- but it’s a more genre-defying, drums-along-to-it’s-own-beat kind of book. I often struggle at classifying books but I would say this is fantastical while also having a contemporary reality mingled in. The novel is mostly set in a dreamscape -- in a town identical to the real-life Aussie outback country town, but this version is where the dreams the people in the town dream at night come to life. Like in a dream, things seem similar but are a bit off kilter. And, in this town, a lot of the people have been having nightmares... making the dream world ever-deadly. Confused yet? Ha, well, that’s part of the appeal. Starting this book felt a little like On The Jellicoe Road, or This is Shyness -- the reader is thrown in -- to gorgeous writing and unexpected situations -- and the reader has to fend for themselves a little (but don't let that deter you, it was not a brain strain with epic world building, it was easy to slip into). I loved that about this book. It just launches straight in and gradually things are revealed, and it’s beautiful and amazing. It’s a visually stunning story (in my mind's eye) and totally haunting. There’s layers and depth, characters to care about (fabulous loyal and brave friendships with some enigmatic romance and swoon), and hard-hitting emotions that took my breath away. This book is my sleeper hit of the year. Gorgeous and evocative and Aussie (that outback vibe!) and creative and original and harrowing just completely unexpected. The ending blew me away. I loved it. Everything about it. If you missed this book this year I am so urging you to bump it up your TBR ~ you might just find a new favourite like I have :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chiara

    A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review. I obviously misread the synopsis before I started reading this book, because I thought it was a contemporary. I thought I was going into a book about a girl who is the twin sister to a girl who shot a number of children at a school, and all the trials and tribulations of looking like the sister did. I was wrong. So wrong. Yes, the main character is a twin sister to a girl who murdered children, but that’s not really what the book is A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review. I obviously misread the synopsis before I started reading this book, because I thought it was a contemporary. I thought I was going into a book about a girl who is the twin sister to a girl who shot a number of children at a school, and all the trials and tribulations of looking like the sister did. I was wrong. So wrong. Yes, the main character is a twin sister to a girl who murdered children, but that’s not really what the book is about. Because this book is a fantasy, and the main girl (Alice) is transported into a dreamscape. How freaking awesome is that? Even though I was looking forward to what was sure to be a harrowing contemporary story, I ended up enjoying the actual story of In the Skin of a Monster a lot more. Interestingly enough, this book is written from two different points of view: Alice, and Lux. Alice was okay. I didn’t really click with her character, but I enjoyed reading her chapters nevertheless. She’s struggling a lot with what happen with her sister three years ago, and it’s clear that she hasn’t recovered (and might never). Lux, however, was gorgeous. I adored him. Throughout the whole book his chapters are weaved with secrets, and lines that leave with you so many questions. Truth be told, I did actually find this a tad annoying at times. I’m not one to need questions to keep reading a book. I can know everything, and still want to find out what happens to the characters. Even though the chapters between the two characters never jumped awkwardly, a lot of the time the chapters of the same character were not linked very well, more often in the case of Lux than Alice. A chapter for one of them would end on a very specific note, and then their next chapter would start off on a completely unrelated one. I think this was a part of the whole ‘let’s keep the reader in the dark and constantly guessing’ thing, but it wasn’t very fluid. The dreamscape created here is super creepy, and also very cool. I’ve never read about anything like it before, and I really enjoyed every minute that I spent in that world. Barker created something pretty amazing here, and I was sad to see it go after I turned the last page. I think I should probably give you a heads up that In the Skin of a Monster doesn’t have a happy ending. I love happy endings, and I don’t care if they’re unrealistic, or whatever. I like seeing the characters I care about get what they want. But even saying that, I can understand why this book didn’t necessarily serve that need of mine for everyone to be together and happy forever. It made sense (even though, if in the same position, I don’t know if I would’ve made the same choices). All in all, even though I thought that In the Skin of a Monster would be completely different to what it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d love to re-read it, because I think this is one of those books that would give you something new every time you picked it up. I highly recommend this one for fans of fantasy in all its forms. © 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    3.5 Stars. Utterly bonkers in the most wonderful way possible, it just took a while to reveal it's brilliance. 3.5 Stars. Utterly bonkers in the most wonderful way possible, it just took a while to reveal it's brilliance.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karina

    4.1☆ This was an excellent debut novel! Very interesting concept - much more fantastical than the contemporary I was actually expecting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mistress Bast

    I read this book when my library purchased a copy and no one knew where we should shelve it. All I can say is: wow, this is not what I thought it would be, and I didn't really know what to think it would be! I have no idea how I will "sell" it to the students, but I want to because I think they will enjoy it. 3 years ago Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and proceeded to kill 7 students in a shooting spree. Since then Alice has had to deal with the fact that every time someone lo I read this book when my library purchased a copy and no one knew where we should shelve it. All I can say is: wow, this is not what I thought it would be, and I didn't really know what to think it would be! I have no idea how I will "sell" it to the students, but I want to because I think they will enjoy it. 3 years ago Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and proceeded to kill 7 students in a shooting spree. Since then Alice has had to deal with the fact that every time someone looks at hear they *see* her sister with a gun. For 3 years Alice has been dealing with the fear that she will become her sister. This is where the book starts. Your mind now needs to take a bit of a leap of faith. Alice slips into a dreamscape where the dreams and nightmares of the town are manifest. The book is based 95% in this dreamscape. At first I wondered why the author had chosen to deal with such an interesting premise in such a contrived location. I mean don't you think the book would have been interesting enough in the real world?? But the more I read the more I realised that without this subconsciousness of the town laid out before us Barker couldn't deal with the psyche and what trauma does to us deep down the way she did. So much of this book dealt with grief, survivors guilt, and even more complex emotional issues following such a wide spread trauma. I was impressed with how honest the characters could be when they were faced with their own subconsciousness. The short chapters made for *very* compulsive reading. I didn't have a lot of time to read, but every time I got 5 minutes to myself I found myself sneaking in another chapter. With most books I want to know what is going to happen. This book was not like that. I spent much more time wondering what was going on. Wondering where everything fit, and trying to piece together what had already happened as the characters revealed tiny bits of their past.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    After skimming the blurb and deciding it sounded like the perfect book to help with my slump, I went in expecting a contemporary, and soon discovered it wasn’t one. Nonetheless, it was thrilling and kept me turning the pages. So much so that I binged it in a day and if you have the time, I do think it’s a good way to read it. It's confusing at times and I feel it wouldn’t have flowed as easily had I kept stopping and starting it over the span of a few days. Plus, having been in a book slump of l After skimming the blurb and deciding it sounded like the perfect book to help with my slump, I went in expecting a contemporary, and soon discovered it wasn’t one. Nonetheless, it was thrilling and kept me turning the pages. So much so that I binged it in a day and if you have the time, I do think it’s a good way to read it. It's confusing at times and I feel it wouldn’t have flowed as easily had I kept stopping and starting it over the span of a few days. Plus, having been in a book slump of late, sometimes the only way to get through it is to find a good book and read for hours. I’m not a fan of multiple point of views in a story, but this one worked for me, probably because of the story and how it’s told. Having said that, I never came to care for the characters as much as I would have liked to. Maybe because it was both very character driven and plot driven, where as normally it’s one or the other. With Jellicoe Road levels of gripping complexity and a twisty, upside-down vibe of Alice in Wonderland, though unlike nothing I’ve ever read before, The Skin of a Monster is a brilliantly woven story. Strangely wonderful and sure to keep you on your toes; recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Avid_Reader

    When I picked this book up, I thought I knew what it would be about. Boy, was I wrong. This novel has to be one of the most unique story lines I've ever come across. I finished this book in a day as I couldn't put it down. Do yourself a favour, check your expectations at the door and immerse yourself in the surreal world this book becomes. When I picked this book up, I thought I knew what it would be about. Boy, was I wrong. This novel has to be one of the most unique story lines I've ever come across. I finished this book in a day as I couldn't put it down. Do yourself a favour, check your expectations at the door and immerse yourself in the surreal world this book becomes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Louise

    Just finished! Review to come

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eugenia (Genie In A Book)

    *This review also appears on my blog Genie In A Book* 4.5 stars Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review In The Skin of a Monster is one of the most provoking and poignant reads I've come across this year. It artfully converges both the real and surreal in a creative way which makes the content that much more powerful. Though the main character's name is Alice - she doesn't discover a 'wonderland' - in fact the lucid dreamscape she enters is q *This review also appears on my blog Genie In A Book* 4.5 stars Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review In The Skin of a Monster is one of the most provoking and poignant reads I've come across this year. It artfully converges both the real and surreal in a creative way which makes the content that much more powerful. Though the main character's name is Alice - she doesn't discover a 'wonderland' - in fact the lucid dreamscape she enters is quite the opposite. Once I started reading I began to realise that there was a level of complexity to this story that you can't pick from the outset, making this a truly multifaceted novel that stands proud as a piece of Aussie YA. What was your last feeling before you pulled the trigger? Were you pleased or horrified? Did you feel like a monster? Was pain the last thing you felt in life? And if so, how long had it been going for? This book struck me from the very first pages as something which I knew would pull me into the pages. The narrative voices from Alice and Lux are both so distinct and engrossing. From the outset I found it fascinating that Alice wasn't simply 'narrating' the story in her parts, but actually telling this as if it was to her twin sister who carried out the shooting. This story doesn't shy away from the more gritty side of humanity - in both our realm and the metaphysical one on the edge of our imaginations. The world doesn't revolve around one disturbed girl, no matter how low she sank to make an impression. Life is more than that. It's blissful and rubbish and crappy and kind and infinite worlds of emotion. And you know what? So are people. The aftermath of one tragedy is something which changes people and has such far-reaching ramifications. I've read books that deal with the topic of a school shooting before (And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard) among others, but never have I come across one which has as much depth as this. Not only is the cast of characters certainly a unique one (when you read it, you'll see what I mean), but even the setting is constructed with a meaning. Though I think it's best to read this in a shorter span of time to truly get your head around how everything fits together, it certainly packs a punch when you realise the truth. Kathryn Barker has provided insight into the minds of these characters who are dealing with moving on from this, but also making peace within themselves. It's a journey which isn't easy - but I loved how outstandingly it was executed. The ending wasn't rushed at all, but provided a fitting conclusion to a story which has some profound messages encapsulated in the experiences of the characters. FINAL THOUGHTS Australian YA has long been known as a genre which presents characters and tough situations with almost brutal honesty. In The Skin of a Monster is a shining example of a stunning debut which definitely has me looking forward to reading whatever Kathryn Barker writes next!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

    Fantastic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Arie ☂

    What was your last feeling before you pulled the trigger? Were you pleased or horrified? Did you feel like a monster? Was pain the last thing you felt in life? And if so, how long had it been going for? 2.5 stars. This book was such a mindtrip. The nightmare dreamscape world was truly unique and the writing style was beautiful. Unfortunately, it started losing steam about halfway through and the ending wasn't resolved enough for my taste. But my main disappointment was that I was looking for What was your last feeling before you pulled the trigger? Were you pleased or horrified? Did you feel like a monster? Was pain the last thing you felt in life? And if so, how long had it been going for? 2.5 stars. This book was such a mindtrip. The nightmare dreamscape world was truly unique and the writing style was beautiful. Unfortunately, it started losing steam about halfway through and the ending wasn't resolved enough for my taste. But my main disappointment was that I was looking forward to some epic twist that just never came. The main characters certainly sound like unreliable narrators (what with all the withholding of information and obscure references to mysterious happenings) so I was having fun doubting everything they said and putting together my own theories. *sigh* I shouldn't have bothered. (view spoiler)[I was convinced for the longest time that Alice's twin sister didn't exist, especially with her remaining conveniently nameless. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    IN THE SKIN OF A MONSTER is a refreshing entry in the Young Adult genre by offering a ‘coming of age’ story that is conceptually universal, whilst also grounded in rural Australia. The use of duality is pervasive throughout the story. Depicting perspectives of both main characters is an unexpected, but interesting, narrative device to explore both a personal mystery and a simmering love story. Barker’s focus on duality continues with her depictions of a sleepy country town that’s juxtaposed with IN THE SKIN OF A MONSTER is a refreshing entry in the Young Adult genre by offering a ‘coming of age’ story that is conceptually universal, whilst also grounded in rural Australia. The use of duality is pervasive throughout the story. Depicting perspectives of both main characters is an unexpected, but interesting, narrative device to explore both a personal mystery and a simmering love story. Barker’s focus on duality continues with her depictions of a sleepy country town that’s juxtaposed with dream-based dystopia. Duality continues in other ways but I’ll keep this spoiler free so you can unravel the layers of the onion by yourself. Barker serves a unique story to a crowded table of YA stories and I’m looking forward to whatever follows. Definitely worth checking out!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mara Shantia

    Ohk so I lovely librarian sat it on the top shelf , I picked it up , while borrowing it she commented that it sounded good . And then I was sucked into a fantastical world ... Although the first few pages confused me soon I couldn't put it down . Sometimes you find a book that's so strange that you just love it .. This is the case with this book , and behind the strangeness is some seriously deep meaning . Well written and a great read , not recommended for people that want don't like monsters a Ohk so I lovely librarian sat it on the top shelf , I picked it up , while borrowing it she commented that it sounded good . And then I was sucked into a fantastical world ... Although the first few pages confused me soon I couldn't put it down . Sometimes you find a book that's so strange that you just love it .. This is the case with this book , and behind the strangeness is some seriously deep meaning . Well written and a great read , not recommended for people that want don't like monsters and almost unbelievable concepts

  17. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I saw this randomly at Big W and decided to pick it up because the premise really interested me. Kathryn Barker is an Australian author and the book is set in Australia, which was so refreshing because I could relate to most things. I loved all the characters and how the answers to my questions were revealed. Definitely recommend!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    A really intriguing novel. I loved the other-worldness and the images I created in my mind. For a debut novel, I am so very impressed and looking forward to your next piece of art. Because not only is this book amazing; it is art. A beautiful blend of societal problems and the internal struggle we all face at one time or another.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aly (In Wonderland)

    This book is not what I had expected it to be. It was wonderfully written and a great story but I have no idea how I feel about it right now.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Clare Snow

    Update 7/3/19: I will never stop loving Monster. Please read my fav book ever, and shudder with me. Don't know why it took me a year to read this!? The monsters stole my composure and refuse to shake their dreamscape from my bones. In the Skin of a Monster spirals so far past surreal, it bypasses the sublime completely and exits somewhere out west where the baked earth meets the Milky Way. "Here's the thing about moments. The world can change in them and people can die in them and just one is all Update 7/3/19: I will never stop loving Monster. Please read my fav book ever, and shudder with me. Don't know why it took me a year to read this!? The monsters stole my composure and refuse to shake their dreamscape from my bones. In the Skin of a Monster spirals so far past surreal, it bypasses the sublime completely and exits somewhere out west where the baked earth meets the Milky Way. "Here's the thing about moments. The world can change in them and people can die in them and just one is all it takes to make a mistake that will last you a lifetime." After whinging about The Pause not meeting my expectations, Monster did and so much more. Sadly the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers 2016 didn't meet my expectations. In The Skin of a Monster made the longlist but not the shortlist. It did win the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel 2015. The story unravels in Collector, a small town stricken by the tragedy of Alice's twin sister taking a gun to school and killing seven classmates, then herself. Three years later Alice is stuck looking like a killer, living with the hatred of everyone in town, her guilt of that terrible day and why she thinks her larger-than-life sister did what she did. The chapters alternate between Alice and a strange boy called Lux. The two live in parallel versions of Collector: Alice's "real" town and Lux's nightmare version where monsters rule the nights and existence is violent and precarious. Alice's sister didn't die in this world, she is Kell the school-girl monster. Somehow Alice and Kell swap bodies and worlds. Alice has no idea what's going on when she finds herself literally in the skin of a monster, her sister. When she works this out, she also realises Kell is in Alice's skin in the real Collector, doing who knows what. "History wouldn't repeat itself. That I was just being paranoid. That fixating on something so morbid, so exquisitely unlikely, was simply a product of trauma. That the nightmare of what you did playing out all over again was not a rational fear." Unless nightmares are real and Kell is the very worst kind of monster. Alice has to get home to her world before something happens to the already traumatized townsfolk. Unfortunately the nightmare monsters and Lux have other ideas. "The precise moment it all went to shit, for the second time." When too many coincidences pile up, they stop being coincidences. Lux is hiding something but, like Alice, doesn't quite understand everything that happened in the past or what's going on now in this very scary world. With the narrators confused, the reader has no chance, which is a good thing. Finding out bit by bit exactly how these tangled threads connect is delicious and horrific and mind-bending. The story reverberates through my synapses and won't leave the darkest corners of my subconscious. I can almost touch the unbearable sorrow seeping from every character. "They buried the seven kids you killed. They put them under the ground, out of sight, so all that was left were the shiny memorials. So that no one could see how everything was still sinking into the holes they'd left behind." Alice's chapters are written to her dead sister, an homage to her grief and guilt. This makes half the book written in second person point of view. Monster is the second book I've read recently using the pronoun You. The other was Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman. Both books approach the incorporation of second person narrative in different and very clever ways. I felt the narrator talking directly to me as I read. I want to read more in this unusual style. And can it be done when You isn't dead or gone? Yes! Laurinda It wasn't until I started writing this that I realised Alice never says her sister's name. I flicked back through trying to find one, but she's only ever You. I love the craft around how writers do this, I've tried and it's hard. You is a clever solution. I noticed the reference to Elephant . That movie and Gus Van Sant's work in general haunts me as much as Monster. The cover design by Josh Durham's Design by Committee is as consummate as the words (really not by committee). Mentored by my favourite designer W.H. Chong, Josh Durham's got the goods. His design was shortlisted for the 2016 Tractor Best Designed Young Adult Book. As usual I think it should have won, but what do I know? Josh Durham has this to say about In The Skin of a Monster. "The protagonist lives in the shadow of a murderous sibling. I wanted to capture a sense of hidden identity and desperation with an image that had a in-your-face physicality and a subtle fantasy element... I created the artwork in Photoshop out of bits and pieces of budget stock photography and knitted in a landscape and sense of place. I hand drew the typography with a dramatic scrawl to match the drama of the cover artwork." The girl shielding her face from the media frenzy and life in general. The outback town desolate and parched, an analog signal losing reception. I didn't notice the wings until after I finished reading. Hand drawn typography, scratched out of the dirt, carved into her skin. I still don't know if it's worse when people assume you're good because of how you look or bad because of how you look. This review is from my blog http://ofceilingwax.wordpress.com/201...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Although at times a little confusing, this book offered something unique for me, a story I hadn't really read before until right at the end. It was honestly spoiled by a random dart of instalove, right then and there, they I couldn't justify or explain. It just came out of no where! But after waiting overnight to confirm my thoughts, I decided the rest of the book was worth it anyway. It's dark and scary, and I actually had nightmares after it, although I can't fully remember what those dreams w Although at times a little confusing, this book offered something unique for me, a story I hadn't really read before until right at the end. It was honestly spoiled by a random dart of instalove, right then and there, they I couldn't justify or explain. It just came out of no where! But after waiting overnight to confirm my thoughts, I decided the rest of the book was worth it anyway. It's dark and scary, and I actually had nightmares after it, although I can't fully remember what those dreams were. Basically Alice's sister, who is never named, went on a killing spree some years before at the local school. Now this might be hard enough to deal with for the family, but Alice was a twin- an identical twin. She is sent away for a while after the crime, but returning the whole town can't really look at her and not wonder if she is exactly like her sister. Then it starts getting a little crazy, but in a good way. The synopsis describes it a little more, but I won't here. It might spoil the read of someone else! Dark and thoughtful, I almost hope to move on from this one pretty quickly. I'd like to sleep peacefully tonight, thank you!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    "Life is more than that. It's blissful and rubbish and crappy and kind and infinite worlds of emotion. And you know what? So are people. We've all got good in us and bad in us, and miles of murky greyness. I suppose the difference is what you choose to focus on. Whether it's on the gutter, or on the stars, or just on your miserable self." Man, this was one hell of a book. So strange, but very well done. "Life is more than that. It's blissful and rubbish and crappy and kind and infinite worlds of emotion. And you know what? So are people. We've all got good in us and bad in us, and miles of murky greyness. I suppose the difference is what you choose to focus on. Whether it's on the gutter, or on the stars, or just on your miserable self." Man, this was one hell of a book. So strange, but very well done.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy Hiron

    4.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this book, and it is not at all what I expected when I picked it up. The whole thing is so original, I've never read anything like it. It was fun and it was sad and it made me think. I'd recommend this book to people who like thrillers... It was fun without being silly, and serious without being boring. It's about murder and heartache, jealousy and letting go. I loved it. 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this book, and it is not at all what I expected when I picked it up. The whole thing is so original, I've never read anything like it. It was fun and it was sad and it made me think. I'd recommend this book to people who like thrillers... It was fun without being silly, and serious without being boring. It's about murder and heartache, jealousy and letting go. I loved it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    LMuff

    Kathryn Barker has set the bar high with this debut...! I found it easier to get through by occasionally putting the book down & actually thinking about it. I found myself getting kind of reflective & philosophical about life and humanity. This novel is gripping, emotional, thoughtful, a bit creepy, and refreshing in a weird way! Looking forward to the next instalment from Kathryn.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Manda

    Original, complicated and incredibly compelling. A story I know I'll have to think about and mull over for a long time to come - the last time I felt like this about a book was when I first read On the Jellicoe Road Original, complicated and incredibly compelling. A story I know I'll have to think about and mull over for a long time to come - the last time I felt like this about a book was when I first read On the Jellicoe Road

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Fantastic book! Just won the Aurealis award for best young adult novel for 2015, and I can see why. It makes you think, but it is really worth the effort.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ComfortPineapple

    This is a captivating and surprising book - a great read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Powerful and moving. A fascinating way to explore the psychological impact of a school shooting on a small Australian community. Definitely an author to watch!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I have mixed feelings about this book, probably because it turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. Although the writing is quite good, and the story concept was original, it just felt a little confusing and grey. As I kept on reading, a few things fell into place, but much of it did not. The opening chapter was quite intriguing and hooked me in, but then the second chapter written from a different character’s point of view was just confusing. Each chapter alternated between Alice, a twin si I have mixed feelings about this book, probably because it turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. Although the writing is quite good, and the story concept was original, it just felt a little confusing and grey. As I kept on reading, a few things fell into place, but much of it did not. The opening chapter was quite intriguing and hooked me in, but then the second chapter written from a different character’s point of view was just confusing. Each chapter alternated between Alice, a twin sister of a girl who murdered students at their school, and Lux, well, I don’t really know who or what he is, only that he seemed to be an important player in some kind of parallel dream world which was full of nightmares from the people living in the town Alice lives in. I didn’t like or dislike any of the characters, but I couldn’t warm to any of them either. The secondary characters were quite confusing because they went by different names depending on whether it was Alice or Lux telling the story. And I just couldn’t even understand who or what Ivan was. The ending didn’t really seem to be an ending, especially regarding Lux and the dream world, although there was some indication that Alice had found an element of closure regarding what her sister did. This book is not something you can read quickly and requires focus and concentration to work out who is who and what is actually going on. It appears that in my case, I was not totally successful in doing that, as I am still confused about this story even while writing this review. This book was not for me but I would recommend it if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary and don’t mind if the story isn’t clear cut black and white.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deadwood

    This book is good - six stars. Read it.

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