Author: N.D. Gomes
Release Date: November 16th 2017
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 goodreads.com
I received an ARC of this book free from YA HQ. It in no way affects my views on Blackbird.
My Thoughts On…
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.
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.
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.
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.