The Deviants

A once tight group of friends – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – grew apart in the wake of a tragedy. Now Ella is trying to balance training for the Commonwealth games with her relationship with Max. But when a cruel trick causes the friends to reunite, the tragic past rears its ugly head and the secrets Ella wishes could always stay buried start to rise to the surface.

In this novel Skuse delves unafraid into difficult and traumatic subject matter. Ella’s strong narrative voice drives the story and the reader is drawn inexorably forward, fearing from the start for the friends’ safety. The characters have depth and are all easy to identify with despite coming from very different backgrounds and having distinct personalities. The difficulties of the transition from child to adulthood are bravely explored especially when it comes to the failings of the adults who should have supported the protagonists in childhood.

Unfortunately, as the book draws to a close Skuse starts to lose her previously tight grip on the subject matter. Clumsy handling of a plot device causes the dramatic ending to fall a little flat. However, the strength of the rest of the book carries it through and it is well worth a read for fans of darker young adult fiction. Readers should be aware that the subject matter is at times graphic and shocking.