ARC Review: Blackbird


Title: Blackbird

Author: N.D. Gomes

Series: N/A

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: November 16th 2017


Four Stars

My name is Alex. I am fifteen years old, and I don’t know where my sister is. Or if she will ever come back.

On New Year’s Eve 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead. The same day Olivia McCarthy went missing from a small coastal village in Orkney.

Now Her younger sister Alex is on a mission to find out just what happened to Olivia. But does she really want to know all the answers?

– Blurb courtesy of

I received an ARC of this book free from YA HQ. It in no way affects my views on Blackbird.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Alex, what time did you last see your sister on the night of the thirty-first?”

It’s New Years Eve and Alex has plans with her older sister Olivia. Plans that involve movies and popcorn and seeing the new year in together. However when it gets to ten Olivia is still not home, despite what she promised; it gets to half ten, eleven, twelve and she’s still not home. When Olivia never returns home after New Year’s Eve it throws Alex’s life into a tailspin. Her sister is missing, and on the small island they call home there are only so many places she could be.

Unlike a lot of the thrillers I’ve read before – Last Seen Leaving, 13 Minutes, even The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Blackbird was a darker story in quite a few ways. It focuses more on the turmoil Alex and her parents face with one part of their family missing. It focuses on the fear, the desperate search for answers while remaining unsure as to whether they’re ready to hear those answers.

“We’re in the newspapers, we’re on the news—if she’s out there, she would see how this is getting out of hand.
Olivia, where are you?
Please come home.”

The longer Olivia remains missing the more uncertain Alex becomes. At first she thought her sister was just hiding out, spending time with her boyfriend or her best friend, but the more she searches the more she starts to wonder if that’s really the case. Olivia was drifting away from her best friend and she broke up with her boyfriend, so how well does Alex really know her sister? Orkney is a small town, somewhere where everyone knows everyone else, if Olivia really is missing then who is it who’s stopping her from coming home?

Blackbird was a lot more serious, a lot deeper and more real than the other thrillers I’ve read before, but I still really enjoyed the story. Alex’s search for Olivia felt more desperate than say Finn’s search for January in Last Seen Leaving, and there was a much darker element of suspense that the author wrote incredibly well. It’s a small town that Alex calls home, so the chances are whoever has taken Olivia is someone Alex knows, and the fear she feels in a place she once belonged is incredibly real and only added to the overall tone of the story.

…The Characters

“I was meant for this place. But not Olivia. She was different. She was special. I was ordinary.”

Alex is only fifteen, she doesn’t know how to deal with her sister’s disappearance and it doesn’t help that her parents are keeping her in the dark. Alex believes Olivia is just hiding out at a friends’, but as more time passes she becomes more and more worried. Her parents and the police officers are all very conscious of shielding Alex from what could become a harsh reality, but Alex wants answers. She wants to prove herself useful and prove she can help find her sister.

Unlike Olivia Alex has always felt like she belonged in Orkney, always felt at home where Olivia longed for more. But after everything that’s happened, with the person who took Olivia still potentially out there, Alex has to deal with her safe haven no longer feeling so safe. There was still a very strong relationship developed in Blackbird despite Olivia’s disappearance. Alex and Olivia drafted apart, the way siblings sometimes can during the teenage years, but Alex maintained that her and Olivia shared everything.

“My dad lost his best friend that night. My mum lost a piece of her that night. I know what I lost. But what is left behind? What do I have to offer my mum and dad? I’m not her.”

In the wake of Olivia’s disappearance Alex’s parents seem to fall apart, and despite their love for their youngest daughter they seem to forget Alex in favour of searching for Olivia. Where some families come together in times of hardship Alex’s was falling apart, and the more her parents kept her in the dark, kept their grieving and their emotions private, the more Alex leaned on DI Birkens for support and updates on Olivia’s case.

I really loved the dynamic between Alex and DI Birkens. In search of someone who she can rely on, someone who can support her in what is becoming a time too hard to bear, Alex turns to the only person she feels she can lean on. The two are broken characters, Alex by her sister’s disappearance and DI Birkens by something that happened long before he ever came to Orkney, but there are answers they need to find that push them both forwards even when they stumble at times.

In tone Blackbird is a very different thriller book to any I’ve read before, but it was still a story I really enjoyed. As Alex searched for her sister, uncovering Olivia’s secrets in order to find out what happened the night she never returned home, I became involved in the search as well. Blackbird is a story that focuses on Alex’s development, and her relationship with her sister, as well as being a tense thriller.

What did you think of Blackbird? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

16 thoughts on “ARC Review: Blackbird

  1. This sounds like a really interesting book! I’m always in the mood for a good thriller and YA thrillers/mysteries aren’t so frequent so it’s nice to know there’s another one out there. I love thrillers that really manage suspense and tension quite well. This one sounds like it definitely does that, especially by leaning into some darker themes and focusing on the family dynamics in the wake of Olivia’s disappearance. Based on your review, I’m pretty excited to pick this one up one day! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you’re in the mood for a YA thriller/mystery then definitely pick up this book Azia. It was amazing and although I don’t read too many thrillers this was a standout story for me. Blackbird was the first book by ND Gomes I read but it definitely won’t be the last. The darker themes in the story had me hooked, and the family dynamic was incredible as well. I always love to see strong family relationships but thought it was extra special that it was done well in this book you know?
      I hope you enjoy this book, you’ll have to let me know what you think when you do get around to it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful review, Beth. I like the tone of it. Darker, tenser, lots of depth? That definitely has my curiosity piqued. The story also seems to do a great job in making everything feel urgent and real, especially those interactions. I haven’t heard about this author, or this book, before, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this story! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan! 🙂 I don’t normally read thrillers but Blackbird was darker than the others I have read, and it added a new tone to the story for me because I really had no idea what to expect. I normally try and guess how the story will end when it comes to this genre, who the villain of the story will be, but this time I had no clue.
      The only other book I know of by the author is Dear Charlie. I haven’t read it yet but now I definitely will be! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not normally a fan of thrillers and I enjoyed this one so that’s a sign for me that it’s a good book. 🙂 If you pick this one up I hope you enjoy it, I’m sure it’ll be a good fit for your reading tastes.
      That’s all right, I’m glad you enjoyed my review! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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