My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A fast paced and gripping read that’s extremely difficult to put down. I loved the premise of a reform school with a special treatment program that transforms wayward and rebellious teens into model citizens. I kind of wish the author had gone a step further into invasion of the bodysnatcher territory but I found this very enjoyable and engaging.
Despite hearing a lot of great things about Taylor’s adult thrillers this, her first venture into YA, was actually the first book by her I’ve read. I had been meaning to pick up her other stories but it was the usual case of too many books too little time. When I spotted this one on NetGalley however I just couldn’t resist. A book about a reform school that’s brainwashing troublesome teens, count me in. It’s just such a fascinating premise and I love all things about brains, memory and behaviour.
The story follows 16 year old Drew Taylor whose younger brother Mason is sent to the residential reform academy by his mum and stepfather after he’s expelled from school for the third time. Initially she’s a little relieved her brother isn’t causing trouble and she can get some peace and quiet but then one day she’s followed home from school by someone claiming to work at the school. Dr Cobey has a note for Drew from her brother which says that all is not as it seems, the treatment is changing people and he’s scared.
When no one listens to her concerns, Drew is forced to take matters into her own hands and investigate. What she finds leads her to believe her only option is to infiltrate the school to get her brother out, but can she reach him before it’s too late.
It’s a really fast paced and enjoyable read and I found myself flying through the pages, so much so in fact, that I finished the whole book in a few hours. The author definitely knows how to tell a gripping story and despite it being a little predictable in places it held my attention through a couple of long and noisy train journeys.
I loved the idea of this slightly sinister reform school which takes wild and uncontrollable teens and somehow transforms them into perfectly turned out, mindless drones who want to serve society and look down on their former friends. There is something inherently creepy about someone who loses their personality and is completely single minded and almost fanatical, with no sense of humor or mind of their own. It kind of reminded me a bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and in a way I do wish the author had taken it further down this path and made it that little bit more creepy and sinister but I suppose it’s supposed to be a thriller rather than out and out sci fi / horror.
In terms of the characters I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely convinced by Drew. She begins the story as this shy and quiet goody two shoes who doesn’t have any friends in real life and is bullied at school then all of a sudden seems to transform into a completely different person when she finds out her brother could be in trouble. I suppose it is possible but it didn’t quite ring true to me which is a shame because I thought the other characters were incredibly well crafted. The staff at the school were particularly well done, superficially nice but with something harder lurking underneath.
There were a few other things that niggled at me a bit as well. I felt like certain aspects were resolved a little too easily, passed over too quickly or just too coincidental to be entirely convincing. I do understand why the author does it but personally I prefer things to be a little less clear cut with a few more twists and turns.
Despite these niggles however I would still recommend you read this book. It’s rare to find a really good YA thriller and this is definitely a good YA thriller. If I hadn’t been travelling to events I probably would have devoured the whole thing in one go.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.
The Treatment is released on 19th October.