Monday 29 October 2012

Review: Arabesque by Colin Mulhern

Amy May is the best at everything she does. But how do you know you're really the best until you're tested? Until you're pushed to the limit?

A botched kidnapping attempt drags Amy and her best friend into the depths of a criminal underworld, a world where the players think with bullets and blackmail. Where they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

And what they want, only Amy May can provide.

This is going to be a fairly short review (honest!). Not only because I am trying to cut back on the length of my ramblings, but also because I have some frustrations regarding this book that I can't go on about too much as I would be creating massive spoilers.

I haven't (yet) read Colin Mulhern's debut YA novel, Clash, although on the strength of this one I am definitely going to try to find the time in the not-too-distant future. Crime is definitely becoming one of the genres of the moment for young adults, and Colin Mulhern is up there with the rest of the crowd as far as the quality of his writing and his characters are concerned. Arabesque is a gritty crime thriller that if televised would sit very well as a post watershed drama. It has a cracking fast-paced storyline, and I absolutely loved the main character Amy May. 

Amy has been brought up by her father to be someone who strives to be the best at whatever she does. This does not just include her promising career as a potential Olympic gymnast - in the early chapters of the book we are given hints that her father has for some reason brought her up to be able to look after herself, be it through hand-to-hand combat or even with a firearm. Initially we can only guess as to why this might be, but as the story progresses we are drip-fed occasional morsels of information that add to Amy's slightly unusual upbringing.

A botched crime leads to Amy and her best friend Mia being kidnapped. Unfortunately for the girls, the group that kidnap them are more than a little inept, and they very quickly find themselves at the mercy of Andrew Galloway, a far more ruthless career criminal. Galloway has plans for Amy, and in order to ensure that she follows them he separates her from Mia, who is taken away to a place where more than her life is at risk. Amy has to decide - will she try to protect her friends by carrying out Galloway's diabolical plan? Or will she forget Mia and try to save her own skin?

I mentioned at the start of this review that I harboured a number of frustrations regarding Arabesque. Before I go on to them I just want to state that I loved the majority of this book. I found it exciting and tense, and think it would make a great read for older teens - it does deal with some fairly adult themes that would make it unsuitable for younger teens. However, there were also one or two things I took issue with. The first of these was a major coincidence that enters the story a handful of chapters before the end. Some might call it a major twist (I saw it coming a mile off), and following some time reflecting over it I can just about accept it, and on its own I think it would have gone pretty much ignored in this review. However, something happens at the very end of the book that in my opinion just does not make any sense at all. I'm trying to explain myself a bit more without creating spoilers, and I think the best I can say is that a character ends up somewhere that they really should not be. There is just no reasonable explanation for this character's presence at this stage of the story. Unless of course, I have missed something completely in the earlier part of the story. 

And that's all I can say about it. Please read the book - it is well worth your time - but I would love to know if anyone out there shares my opinion.

My thanks go to the fab Non at Catnip Books for sending me a proof copy of Arabesque to review.


  1. Im reading it and lets hope its good for me.

  2. I agree with you. I just finished reading it about three hours ago. I can see what you mean. Nice review.