|The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab|
December 18, 2012
Ariel's birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family's east coast estate, and all of Ariel's elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who's dreading the party is Sera, Ariel's former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.My Review:
They have no idea just how right they are.
Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel's father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.
I didn't know what to expect from this book. I was just looking forward to something a bit different from what I'd been reading. What The Girl in the Wall turned out to be was a book that far exceeded my expectations. This book gripped me from the beginning and I finished it in a day.
The Girl in the Wall alternates between Sera's and Ariel's POV. I really liked this approach because we know from the beginning that Sera and Ariel used to be best friends until a little over 9 months ago when something happened, causing Ariel to call Sera a back-stabber and turn her into a pariah at school. Through these alternating POVs we are gradually able to find out what happened to their friendship, and if there is any hope of reconciliation. This is also how we know that Sera is the only one who knows where Ariel is, testing her loyalty to Ariel once again.
This broken friendship is only part of the story. The main problem is that Ariel's birthday party has been taken hostage for reasons that Ariel is not aware of initially. This part of the storyline is scary and suspenseful - a group of high school students, plus one rock star, taken hostage by a huge group of gun-toting agents who show no mercy. There are meaningless deaths, physical wounds, and emotional scars to last a lifetime. But this is a hostage situation gone wrong, so that's where even more suspense occurs, because we don't know what the next move of the bad guys will be, and we don't know if the choices that Sera and Ariel make are good or will be more costly in the end.
Then there is the minor storyline of the budding potential romances. I liked how the author handled this. In a situation like this, of course emotions would be high, but these kids are also getting to know each other in a intense kind of way, all their fears exposed, their emotions bare, and honesty their only course. So for some of them to form special bonds makes sense. But I also like how this did not overtake the storyline. With Sera and Hudson in particular, they were able to work together as a team as well as get to know each other on a personal level, yet always kept their heads in the game. You could see their connection, yet the author did not overly-romanticize anything. This also holds true for the other potential relationship, though it was not explored as much.
I will say that I had a few discrepancies with a few plot points and situation handlings in the book, but I was able to overlook them enough to continue enjoying the storyline. Though perhaps some of these details detracted from my overall rating.
To keep this spoiler-free, I will not reveal any deaths or outcomes in detail, but as you can imagine, this type of situation takes its toll and not everyone survives. I found myself teary-eyed at the end, which I did not expect to feel. One character in particular touched a chord with me, but I could understand why the author chose the outcome she did. Because the reality is that this is not a happily-ever-after story. It is an ugly situation caused by hateful, selfish people. The author touches on how some of the characters react after the trauma, some in more detail than others. You'd need a whole other book to deal with all the PTSD. But not all is lost, and there is some hope and happiness left after all the tragedy.
Bottomline: This is a fast-paced story dealing with a brutal situation that I did not want to put down. The action was intense but well-paced, the characters were realistic and meaningful, the consequences were honest. If you're looking for a different YA book, try this one.