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Monday, 25 October 2010

Review: The Long Weekend

Author: Savita Kalhan
Release Date: 2nd October 2008
Genre: Thriller
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Andersen Press

Summary from Amazon:
Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night...

The Long Weekend is an uncompromising thriller which will chill you to the bone and have you breathlessly turning page after page.

Sam has recently started at yet another new school. This time he is hoping to stay put and after a week he makes an exciting friend in Lloyd. They arrange to go to one of their houses after school on Friday. The only trouble is that they can’t remember which set of parents are meant to be collecting them. They wait in the rain outside school for ages until a luxury car pulls up. Lloyd gets in and Sam follows but neither of them think to check with the other that they know the driver. So the car drives off and they sit in the back being highly impressed with the gismos and gadgets of the Mercedes. But eventually the penny drops and Sam considers that the man in the front seat isn’t Lloyd’s dad after all.

What follows is a terrifying experience for both boys and the reader. The man takes them to a mansion house and there is no way out. Why they are there is a complete mystery to them and the novel continues along this very sinister path.

I was absolutely petrified reading this book. It is every child’s nightmare – the storyline that is not the book. The Long Weekend effortlessly pulls you into the story. The narrative is told simply but it is so effective. We see the story through Sam’s eyes yet it is told in the third person. It is as if the reader is there holding his hand the whole way through, crying when he cries, paralysed by fear when he is. I was desperate to read on but I was also afraid to. Kalhan’s debut novel seems to me to be incredibly brave because the story is unflinchingly dark and powerful for that reason.

Both Sam and Lloyd are likeable and distinctive characters. We are naturally sympathetic towards Sam as he is the voice we hear. We are perhaps slightly removed from Lloyd but this is important for the story. I say no more on that for fear of spoilers.

My recommendation: You absolutely should read this book. You will never get in a car without checking you know the driver again. But you should read it under these conditions: Safely tucked up at home, in broad daylight with someone to hold your hand when you want to scream. A real frightener so if sinister thrillers are your thing, The Long Weekend is undoubtedly for you.

Thank you to Savita Kalhan for inviting me to review her book.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Oooh, sinister thriller! I haven't read many of those, mostly watched them, and I always need someone by my side to comfort me.:) But I love a good thriller and this one seems to be one. Just your review will be a reminder that I must always check if I know and trust the driver.:) Great review, Becky!

asamum said...

This sounds fantastic but I am a little uncomfortable with the subject matter (having 3 girls) will try to read though I think. Would you recommend for the library (11-14 age group)??

cj'alhafiz said...

Hi Becky!! It has been awhile since I dropped by here. First of all.The cover is awesome!! Second...the story sounds compelling. I'd love to know what will happened to both boys.. Thanks for sharing Beck!! Have a great day.

My latest review is on Marley & Me. Check it out!!

Becky said...

Irena, highly sinister. Definitely brought home to me how important personal safety is. I don't really read scary books. I was wondering if I would be able to read this book but I surprised myself. I was terrified but I was hooked until the very end.

Emma, age rating is difficult on this one. Although Sam and Lloyd are 11. I'm not sure that a pupil of the same age would be comfortable with the content. Very sinisiter goings-on but the author handles it with sensitivity. I say 12 plus but it really comes down to each individual child and the sort of things that keep them awake at night. Your Year 9s would be fine. They are probably watching 18 rated films anyway. I think you'd need to read it yourself so if a parent did complain you'd be armed with all the facts. But it is a great book for the school library. Reluctant readers will love the pace and constant action.

CJ, the cover is every bit the story. I'm sure you'd love this book.

Nina said...

OMG, this sounds really good and perfect for winter time! :) great review!

Rebecca said...

Great review, his book sounds scary but intriguing! I want to read this!

Lauren said...

I have to say, I'm surprised you got through this one because it sounds like it's way over your scariness threshold! I'm glad you did though, because your review has me utterly intrigued. This sounds frankly brilliant.

Caroline said...

Haha! I was just about to write my comment when I read Lauren's!
I am wondering indeed how you came to read this book! Did you know the subject before reading it?
I am definitely interested to read it and, from your review, I'm sure it is fascinating!
Thanks for the great suggestion and congrats on reading a scary book!

I Want To Read That said...

I love the sound of this one - will have to check it out! Thanks for the review:)

Becky said...

Nina, ooh yes! It has a really cold, autumnal damp feel to it.

Rebecca, thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

Lauren, I laughed so much when your comment popped through on my email. You are absolutely right on my scariness threshold. I still can't quite believe that I read it.

Caroline, yes I am wondering how I convinced myself it would be a good idea to read such a scary book. Savita emailed me and from the synopsis I thought it might be pre-teen scary (so actually not that scary that it would give me nightmares). So it turns out that it is way beyond pre-teen scary but it was so effortlessly told that the story just kind of tugged me along even though I was petrified. I've definitely not been transformed into a girl who reads scary books but I can appreciate excellent characterisation, fast paced plot and expert writing when I read it.

Sammee, yay! Hope you like what you found it.

Clover said...

How funny that we posted reviews of the same book on the same day! Especially one that didn't seem to be widely publicised? I think it was fantastic though and everyone was buzzing on twitter about this :)

Jesse Owen said...

OMG! The synopsis sent a chill down my spine - definatley going to need to investigate!

Great review :)