"Leah Jackson - in detention. Then armed Year 9s burst in, shooting. She escapes, just. But the new Lock Down system for keeping intruders out is now locking everyone in. She takes to the ceilings and air vents with another student, Anton, and manages to use her mobile to call out to the world. First: survive the gang - the so-called 'Eternal Knights'. Second: rescue other kids taken hostage, and one urgently needing medical help. Outside, parents gather, the army want intelligence, television cameras roll, psychologists give opinions, sociologists rationalise, doctors advise - and they all want a piece of Leah. Soon her phone battery is running out; the SAS want her to reconnoitre the hostage area ...But she is guarding a terrifying conviction. Her brother, Connor, is at the centre of this horror. Is he with the Eternal Knights or just a pawn? She remembers. All those times Connor reached out for help ...If she'd listened, voiced her fears about him earlier, would things be different now? Should she give up her brother? With only Anton for company, surviving by wits alone, Leah wrestles with the terrible choices..."
I read this book in a day for two reasons. Firstly - it's compelling and well-written. Secondly, the subject-matter is about as horrific as it gets and I didn't want to linger too long.
If you haven't heard about it already, Siege is about a 16 year old girl, Leah Jackson, who's trapped in a school where a group of students are on the rampage with guns. One of them may or may not be her dysfunctional brother, Connor and she's determined to find out what's happened to him. It's a story of survival and of bravery, where every decision can make a difference between living and dying. Leah has to use all her practical wits to keep one step ahead of the gunmen and she does it with breathtaking style, uncovering even darker secrets as she unravels the reason behind the massacre.
As you can imagine, the pace is pretty relentless throughout and there's lots of violence, especially at the beginning of the book, but there are quieter moments too. And these are the moments that make Siege meaningful as small drops of hope appear in the most terrible of situations. Leah is a compassionate heroine - willing to help others even when her own safety is at stake. She's also intelligent, making connections that others can't see. Her voice dominates the entire novel, constantly questionning and calculating. Some may find her stream of consciousness difficult to follow, but once you accept her thought-processes, it's as if you're right there with her. It's this sense of immediacy that makes the novel such a painful and exciting read.
Although Siege definitely isn't for everyone, older readers may want to give this one a try. Yes, it's challenging and gory, but it's also moving and hopeful. An important book that will keep you thinking long after you've turned the last page.
Review by Mel.
Siege by Sarah Mussi
- Publisher: Hodder Children's Books (7 Mar 2013)
- ISBN-10: 1444914847
- ISBN-13: 978-1444914849