I received this book for free from Penguin Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written by Kirsty Eagar
Published May, 2012 by Penguin
Provided by: Penguin Australia
Genres: Contemporary, Horror
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Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that’s not rational, not right, and you’re becoming somebody you don’t recognise, and certainly don’t respect, but you don’t even care. And this person you like is unattainable. Except for one thing… He lives downstairs.
Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane. But since Kane’s been back, he’s changed. There’s a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world.
I’ve wanted to read one of Kirsty Eagar’s books for so long – and I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to try out Night Beach. It’s a creepy, unsettling read with a strong, Australian style. I only wish that I wasn’t left feeling utterly confused and disorientated upon closing the last page!
I must say that it was totally refreshing to read another ‘pure Aussie’ YA book. I think the last one I read was Good Oil by Laura Buzo, and that was a while ago. While some people complain that non-Aussies won’t be able to relate, I don’t feel this is the case. Books like these, like Night Beach, give you a real glimpse into our atmosphere and lifestyle (though I’m pretty sure we don’t have weird shadow ghosts!) and for Aussie readers we get to see and hear about places we recognise and can imagine.
For that reason, I adored Night Beach. Kirsty Eagar has a real way with words, an amazing ability to create an atmosphere that draws you in and makes you feel PART of the drama/action/creepiness. Her descriptions of the ocean and the beach were both unsettling and familiar, and her characters were so raw and obscure. There was also some great music mentioned in this book, albeit briefly, like Patrick Wolf and Kasabian! Not integral to the story, obviously, but they stuck out at me since I’m a fan.
Abbie, our protagonist, was so hard to gauge! At times I really loved her (when she was babysitting Joey she was completely adorable) and at other times I was thinking ‘what is wrong with this girl?’ I can COMPLETELY understand what it’s like to be swept up into a crazy obsession with something or someone, to experience that gnawing NEED to know more about them and to find yourself thinking about them all the time – but there were some things she did that I just could not fathom EVER doing!
Kane himself – I just did not see the appeal. I can appreciate that there was a certain ‘aloofness’ to him that Abbie idolised – the fact she could never have him made her want him more – but for the most part, he was a complete douchebag. If there had been a ‘softer’ side to him or SOMETHING that happened whenever he and Abbie interacted other than awkwardness and anger, I would have relished his pagetime, but as it turned out, I did not. Kane was hardly at home, anyway. I found myself appreciating Abbie’s relationship with Hollywood more. The romance side of this book is pretty small in comparison to the ‘creepy/mystery’ part.
And yes, it’s CREEPY! I think the scariest things for me happened when Joey would talk to her imaginary friend, Pinty, and say something completely chilling. Although ‘invisible’ Pinty scared the crap out of me, and I’m sure it’s the same for other readers. The shadow creature was pretty damned scary, too. Though apart from being some kind of demon from the island Kane and his friends visited, we don’t find out much about it.
That was probably my main problem with this book. I was constantly left scratching my head. I wish there had been some huge explanation as to WHY or HOW this all happened – to Kane and to Abbie – and for me, it never came. This book lets YOU make sense of the events on your own, and I’ve never been into that. I need the author to sit me down, to TELL ME what the hell just happened! I felt like I got no resolution from this book other than Abbie’s realization over Kane in the end (to which I wanted to throw her a high-five, by the way).
There was some beautiful imagery in Night Beach and a completely eerie atmosphere which sucks you in as a reader, but I didn’t get out of the book what I wanted – explanations and resolutions – and I just don’t know what to make of it. All in all, a good read, but too ambiguous for my tastes.
I still have so many questions. Read them below (spoilers!)
What did the creature take as a sacrifice?
Why was Kane dead in the last visit to the Night Beach, and then alive?
How did Abbie use the candle – ‘love’ – to get rid of a demon?
What did Kane and his friends do to attract the demon in the first place, other than go to his island?
Why didn’t it take Toby A?
What was Pinty?
Why could Abbie see the demon?
Why did Abbie’s ‘relics’ go missing and appear on the Night Beach?
How did the mirrors reflect the other world?
Recommended to: Readers of Aussie YA will love Night Beach. If you’re looking for a creepy read, give this one a go!