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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Review: The Stranger

Author: Sarah Singleton

Release date: 31st March 2011
Genre: Thriller / Crime / Mystery
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Summary from Amazon:

Charlotte is heading to a tiger sanctuary to do some voluntary work as part of her travels. But a fellow traveller working at the sanctuary starts to make her feel uncomfortable and she decides to ask Otto to visit her, pretending to be her boyfriend. When things start going wrong at the sanctuary, Charlotte fears a vendetta against her could be to blame. As tigers come under attack from poachers, the local authorities threaten to replace the sanctuary's management. Mark the journalist reappears, ostensibly covering the poaching crisis, but also delving into the background of the traveller who is making Charlotte's life a misery. But by now Otto and Charlotte's 'fake' relationship seems to be developing into something a little more serious...and how will Mark, and Otto's ex, Jen, feel about that?


The Stranger is a follow on novel from The Island. It is an exotic and captivating thriller.

Charlotte has been working at the Golden Tiger Reserve since she left the coastal resort of Goa. In the hot Indian outback she is learning much about the problems faced by the local people and the difficulties of protecting the tigers over such a vast area. Charlotte is travelling back to the sanctuary after completing an errand when the train she is on derails. It is a terrifying experience for Charlotte but ever the practical girl; she immediately sets about helping other injured people out of the carriages. There is another European boy – Jack - who she meets on the journey and he is enraptured by the carnage and reality of staring death in the face. Jack is an unnerving and obsessive character and his introduction sets the plot in motion.

I really enjoyed reading Charlotte’s chapters in The Stranger. She is, in my mind, the cement that holds the novel together. Again there are chapters from her two friends Jen and Otto. I liked Otto’s story so much more in this book although I still found Jen a little too strange.

Otto is less of a voyeur in The Stranger. He is much more a man of action. I wasn’t wholly confident in his change of behaviour. I didn’t know if he was going to revert back to his self-centred, lustful ways that dominated his thoughts in The Island. I was cheering on his transformation though which demonstrates Singleton’s power to get the reader involved in the story.

Jen on the other hand was too vague for me. She is a very spiritual character who has visitations from spirits. To be honest, as a rather secular person, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief and thought she was full of a lot of annoying nonsense. That said, she does have a pivotal role in the plot and she certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the story.

The setting is also at the heart of this thriller. Charlotte is being hunted and so are the tigers. Singleton writes such evocative, sensual descriptions of the reserve that it is impossible not to fall in love with it. There is a definite refreshingly different quality about this novel. It is so far removed from other Young Adult fiction.

The Stranger is a thrilling read. At times it deals with sinister themes and the darkest of desires. At other times it explores the nature of friendship and love. The two threads weave together wonderfully to make this a great and unusual read.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending the book to review.
Read for the British Books Challenge 2011


Kay (Dead Book Darling) said...

Hmm, I am tempted by the fact that this is set in a tiger sanctuary... but am somewhat hesitant b/c of the multiple narrators... Do you think you need to read The Island before starting The Stranger?

Great review, as usual!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This sounds very exciting! It's a thriller and it also tacjles the issues of tigers being hunted down. Great and intriguing combination! Great, honest review, Becky!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Wow. This sounds exciting. Great honest review.

Becky said...

Kay, I've had a think about whether you need to read The Island first and I've decided that you don't. The Stranger is a complete story in itself. You'll miss out on a bit of the back story between Otto and Charlotte but I don't think that detract from your enjoyment of The Stranger.

Irena, Wow, I just noticed the new profile pic. Yay! I finally know what you look like.

Juju, thanks! Hope you get to read it.