The Damage Done - Linda Newbery

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Kirsty has told no one about her night-time panics, and is in the habit of lying to everyone - to her father, to her absent mother, to her friends - to conceal the fact that she never goes into public places. With too much responsibility, Kirsty is given a new worry about the horses in her care - horses locally are being brutally attacked at night. When Kirsty meets Dally, living rough and giving away none of his secrets, she doesn't know whether he is to be feared or trusted.


Review: I really liked this book as a teenager, though not as much as The Shell House by the same author. Having re-read The Shell House a couple of times as an adult, and having enjoyed it just as much, I decided to finally re-read The Damage Done. Unfortunately, it didn't hold up as well, for me. That said, it's a very well-written book and I think if I were a teenager I would still love it. Whereas The Shell House centres more around identity, and subsequently love, The Damage Done is almost like a coming of age story with little focus on the coming of age part. The peripheral aspects - the broken family, the dependence of Kirsty on her brother for security and her coming into independence, the mysterious local horse attacks - these should have been built upon more. The main focus was Dally, a completely uninteresting, uncharismatic, unlikeable character, who is for some inexplicable reason, incredibly alluring to Kirsty. I must have liked him when I was a teenager, to like this book, but why on earth?

My other issue with my re-read is that it was the Kindle edition, released in 2011, ten years after the original release of the novel. It references Robert Pattinson and iPods, which were 15 years old and not released for another six months, respectively, when the novel was originally published. This, to me, reading the book for nostalgic reasons, was incredibly jarring. I get wanting to make the book more relevant to a modern audience, but it didn't work for me at all.

As I said, it is a beautifully written novel - regardless of content, Newbery's writing is always a pleasure to read, and she does not pander to younger readers, which is always nice to see in YA. An okay book, with some good moments, but honestly I'd recommend The Shell House over this.

Rating: 3/5

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