by Sarah Mussi
Published: 1st March 2013 by Hodder Children’s Books
Version: Hardback from publisher (review my own, honest opinion)
Rating: 4 sofas
Leah Jackson – in detention. Then armed Year 9s burst in, shooting. She escapes, just. But the new Lock Down system for keeping intruders out is now locking everyone in. She takes to the ceilings and air vents with another student, Anton, and manages to use her mobile to call out to the world.
First: survive the gang – the so-called ‘Eternal Knights’.
Second: rescue other kids taken hostage, and one urgently needing medical help.
Outside, parents gather, the army want intelligence, television cameras roll, psychologists give opinions, sociologists rationalize, doctors advise – and they all want a piece of Leah. Soon her phone battery is running out; the SAS want her to reconnoiter the hostage area … But she is guarding a terrifying conviction. Her brother, Connor, is at the center of this horror. Is he with the Eternal Knights or just a pawn?
She remembers. All those times Connor reached out for help … If she’d listened, voiced her fears about him earlier, would things be different now? Should she give up her brother?
With only Anton for company, surviving by wits alone, Leah wrestles with the terrible choices …
I was intrigued by this GORGEOUS book as soon as I heard about it. School shootings fall into that ‘issues’ category of things that don’t get talked about very often but really should. I like to go for books that almost guarantee an emotional read, and Siege certainly didn’t disappoint!
The first two-thirds of the book were entirely gripping, and brought up a lot of emotions about what it may be like to experience a shooting, and the choices you make. We follow Leah from the beginning, where she manages to hide from the initial horror, and then later as she tries to figure out how to help others. Should she leave her hiding place to help others that have been shot? Or try to get out and help? Or even, try to take down the shooters?
I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience that kind of event. Living in England, I have not seen the ‘gun culture’ that is more apparent in the US, but it is getting worse here. The level of shock and fear that people feel must be overwhelming, and that raw emotion definitely comes across in the book. There are points in the book where I just felt… horrified? That this could actually be a true story was at the forefront of my mind, and it made the story very intense.
I do have to say that the last third of the book did irritate me a bit. Trying to tie up the story and the motivation behind the shooting, the story just went in a way that I didn’t expect and couldn’t really believe. It did make the plot different and reveal a kind of ‘hidden agenda’, but I just felt it was unnecessary. To me, the book was powerful enough without it, and it kind of detracted from the original message.
Siege was a book that took my breath away. I was hooked from the start and could not put the book down. Although I didn’t agree with the ending, I think that it covers a very important topic, and I would implore teenagers to read about the impact shootings can have. 4 sofas!