Welcome to Hummingbird Creek. The elite wellness retreat provides tailored programmes for troubled teens to get them back on the right path. With special digital watches, the Creek staff monitor the residents' every move. Not that there is much spare time in between the strict regime of exercise, training and more exercise, balanced by therapy and carefully selected meals providing each resident with their optimum calorie intake, mind.
While the residents only have to endure the Creek's strict rules for the duration of their stay, the children of the people that work there have grown up knowing nothing else besides what's contained within the gates of their closed-off community. Mae's father heads up Hummingbird Creek, and while she previously complacently followed the rules by the book, when she starts noticing little things that are just a bit off she starts asking questions – putting not only herself, but also her mom and friends in terrible danger.
See How They Lie started out quietly unsettling as we become acquainted with Hummingbird Creek and the bizarre rules the teens within the community live by. It was disturbing, and even more so because we see it through the eyes of a girl who seemed totally okay with the insanely intense training schedule, lack of education, and the complete cut-off from the rest of the world (even the computers only have access to a pre-selected list of websites). The idea of a peaceful community may sound like a Utopia, but the reality at the Creek was anything but.
However, since Mae didn't know any better, she didn't realise that something was not quite right until well into the novel and that's when things really kick off. Going from slightly unsettling to full-blown edge-of-the-seat thriller, from that moment onwards I had to finish this gripping read in a single sitting. The intense developments had me completely hooked and it's a testimony to author Sue Wallman's perfect pacing, that I was left wanting more after finishing each chapter.
I realise I haven't spoken at all about the characters yet - but that is because the story is SO good and I can easily ramble on about it for the entirety of this review (basically, buy and read this book asap!). While Mae was the main character and you can't help but feel for her throughout, her naivety about what was happening around her also made her slow on picking up some obvious signs of trouble at the Creek. It was actually her temporary resident friends I felt were most relatable, as they were viewing everything from a similar mind-set as I was. Their experiences added another level of realism to the story, making the novel even more disturbing.
See How They Lie will have you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath until you've turned that final thrilling page. It's highly original, exquisitely paced and written, and has cemented Sue Wallman as one of my favourite voices within young adult fiction. Absolutely brilliant.
See How They Lie is published by Scholastic and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.
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