He keeps us here because we’re special.
Esther is one of the Special Ones – four teens who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside.
Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special. And yet she also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.
The Speical Ones was a book I hauled in my April Book Haul. I was immediately drawn to this book from the cover. Not gonna lie sometimes the cover is really what makes or breaks a book for me. I know, it’s not what you’re supposed to do but when you’re in a bookshop, presented with hundreds of books in front of you, the covers and titles are all the separates them on first glance. I felt a creepy vibe from the title and cover of the book and I was intrigued. I don’t read many books with suspense or mystery like vibes so I thought for a change I’d give it a go.
I know, it’s not what you’re supposed to do but when you’re in a bookshop presented with hundreds of books in front of you, the covers and titles are all the separates them on first glance. I instantly felt a creepy vibe from the title and cover of the book and I was intrigued. I don’t read many books with suspense or mystery like vibes so I thought for a change I’d give it a go.
The premise of the novel is that a group of teenagers are removed from the modern world and forced to live in the outback. They are believed to be descendants of a group of people called the Speical Ones and it’s their duty to physically embody these people for their loyal followers. Anyone else getting cult vibes? I totally was. But it didn’t matter, the blurb has me hooked.
Esther is our protagonist and we follow her as she’s living as a Special One. I have to admit it took me a while to warm up to Esther, she’s not like other characters I’ve read and I didn’t immediately relate to her. Because when the story begins we learn who Esther is, the special one, not the girl pretending to be her.
I wanted to know the other girl, the one beneath the facade and when she was finally described to the reader I still felt like I couldn’t get fully behind her as a character. I sympathised with her and the experiences she’d gone through but there was just something missing. It’s hard to explain, but I just didn’t get behind her as much as I have with other characters. No idea why.
I have to say I was more drawn to Him, the mysterious character introduced about halfway through the book. He is the person responsible for the creation of the Special Ones and the person keeping the teens. He was so interesting in ways that Esther lacked, I was constantly left with questions and felt like I’d never know enough about him. I’d say it was the way Bailey wrote about Him that left me wanting more, especially after the book ended. I kept thinking, what pushes a person to do that? What kind of person can get away with doing that for so long?
That’s how I know I enjoyed a book if it left me thinking about it days after I finished reading it.
While it took me a little bit to fully engage with the characters, I was always immersed in the story. Bailey’s writing style adds the intensity to the story. Her sentences make the hair on the back of my neck stick up and goosebumps pop up all over my skin. The creepiness of the characters and the mystery of what’s really going on completely freaked me out. I was a little paranoid after I finished this book so much so that when I was approached by someone trying to sell me something in a shopping centre, I jumped about ten feet high. Silly, but true.
I enjoyed the ride this book took me on, and while I didn’t have the same emotional connection I love from main characters, it’s still I book I think people should read. It raises some really intense questions about what society believes we should value. And how society understands mental health. But ultimately it’s a book about survival and how far a person is willing to go to survive.
And even better, it’s an Australian book, so gotta give so love to Australian YA. #LoveOzYa
3 stars out of 5
Have you read any great mystery or thriller books lately? Anything you think I should read? Let me know in a comment below.