This first novel from a new writer starts in great style, with the British Prime Minister’s 16-year-old daughter Robyn kidnapped and taken hostage by a small group of fanatics intent on forcing through radical environmental change. The writing is urgent and uncluttered, and the situation Robyn finds herself in is authentically horrible. Badly battered after she tries to fight her way out, her imprisonment in a shabby deserted house gives her a chance to re-think her relationship with her pleasant-sounding, if remote, father.
So far, so good, and up to half way through, this novel had five stars written all over it. But then it falls away, with Robyn’s behaviour increasingly ridiculous and the evolving situations she finds herself in so unlikely that suspending disbelief becomes a full-time effort. Like too many other Young Adult novels, this one ends by announcing itself as far more young than adult. This it does by falling into the trap of adding yet more dramatic but ultimately repetitive incidents to a story perfectly well able to stand on its own without. And while it is good to find any sort of political discussion in fiction for this age, the denouement involving Robyn’s father is both rushed and unconvincing. An inevitable love affair with one of the kidnappers offers another opportunity for ending up in a fictional cul-de-sac. That said, Grainger remains a promising author with much to offer if only she can remember that less can so often mean more.