The Donor - Helen Fitzgerald

Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: Will Marion has two perfect kidneys. His daughters aren't so lucky. Question is: which one should he save? Will's 47. His wife bailed out when the twins were in nappies and hasn't been seen since. Just after the twins turn sixteen, Georgie suffers kidney failure and is placed on dialysis. Her type is rare, and Will immediately offers to donate an organ. Without a transplant, she would probably never see adulthood. But then Kay gets sick. She's also sixteen. Just as precious. Her kidney type just as rare. Time is critical, and he has to make a decision. Should be buy a kidney - be an organ tourist? Should be save one child? If so, which one? Should be sacrifice himself? Or is there a fourth solution - one so terrible it has never even crossed his mind?


Review: One thing I've learned about Helen Fitzgerald from her other books is that she loves to turn thriller conventions on their heads - in another of her novels, The Cry, she revealed the twist very early on. In this one, she reveals the apparent twist right at the outset. The result for me was that the vast majority of the book read more like a drama (definitely heightened by the impending teenage deaths, which is a common theme in YA drama/fiction novels). Ultimately, Helen actually went even further than just telling you the twist at the beginning, and I have to admit I was completely and utterly thrown - even confused, for quite a few pages. It's one of those things people are either going to cop the second the possibilities even arise, or is going to leave people baffled, like it did me. She did a great job of making all the possibilities apparent, and then blowing them out of the water.

As per both of her previous novels that I have read, the writing is fantastic - the author has an uncanny knack for rendering such life-like characteristics in the people she writes. Everything is always just complex enough to make it seem life-life, but also always just crazy enough to keep it exciting and to keep the pages turning. I have to admit, however, that this is my least favourite of the three I read, possibly because of the aforementioned drama feel. Additionally, it is told in two perspectives (as her books often are), one third person and one first person. The first person perspective is Georgie, the more delinquent of the teenagers, and I can't honestly say I cared much about her at all. I felt the first person perspective totally overshadowed Kay, who I would have liked to read much more about. I couldn't stand Cynthia, Will was okay, and probably the most interesting (but least credible) character was the young private detective. All in all, I found the characters pretty underwhelming, and wasn't too fussed what happened to any of them.

That said, I still tore through the book in a couple of days due to its immense readability, so it's definitely worth picking up. Just maybe don't take it as your introduction to the author.

Rating: 3/5

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