The Cruelty

Scott Bergstrom

Walker Books

February 2017

$18.99 AU

448p pb

ISBN: 978-1406372922

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The Cruelty is the first book from a groundbreaking new YA voice: an utterly compelling thriller. When Gwendolyn Bloom realises that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

The Cruelty is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Gwendolyn Bloom. The plot follows a somewhat typical spy plot. In this case, Gwen’s father, who is ostensibly a State Department employee but is actually a spy, goes missing. Because the US government can’t help, Gwen has to travel around the seedy underbelly of Europe to try to find him. The book deals with human trafficking and other vile aspects of the world, and it is very dark…

I did not find the character Gwen very likeable and thought she was somewhat superficially drawn. I found her personality was quite unpleasant and she has to do some horrible things. There is some romance in the book, for example, she meets with a classmate named Terrence whom she has only known for over a week and after some conversation they already start making out at the back of a cab. I found this portrayal of their relationship too rushed and not genuine.

The Cruelty has a fast-paced and complicated plot, but for me it lacked a depth or complexity and I found it hard to get through.

Geoffrey, age 16

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