Title: The Sin-Eater's Confession
Author: Ilsa J. Blick
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pub Date: 11/28/12
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: When picking up this book, be prepared to dive into the mind of a seriously disturbed, paranoid, pressured teen. The entire reading experience was as tense as a brewing family argument. Each sentence teetered dangerously on the edge of driving Ben insane, or exposing his actions. How awesome is that? With the stakes so high, it was next to impossible to put the book down, even when 2 AM came with a full day of school looming.
Blick continued her sharp characterization to make each person, even when you didn't like any of them, understandable and relatable. She really took the reader into the mind of the protagonist, through the logic of completely illogical actions.
Her plot pacing and progression was also wonderfully crafted. Usually I mark where I am in a book by the spine, how much I have left, where the action is happening. This time I was too wrapped in the story that I couldn't find the breath to stop long enough and check. It definitely didn't follow a typical plot structure, but the realistic feeling of following a true story was refreshing enough for me not to care. It was a continuous climax, and the inconclusive ending left Ben's personal story closed enough to satisfy.
Memorable or Forgettable: The absolute most interesting part of the book was reading through Ben's reactions in all of the little interactions he has, especially with his dad, the sheriff. His guilt was impeccably expressed in how quick the sentences were, one after another. I know I do that when talking to people, lightening fast evaluations of what they might be thinking. And I haven't seen a murder then failed to report it, like Ben did. I have never read a first person that was so sharp on his guilt. It was really intense to process, but also great to read.
Cover: Awesome cover - I love it when it is visually appealing, and then ties into the book. It was also dirty and bloody enough to scare away people of lighter reading preferences. The gore level of the book was pretty high, so the cover helped get the it into the right hands of readers that can appreciate a solid helping of blood. And guts. And vivid descriptions of crunching bones.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: Two years after witnessing a friend's brutal murder, Ben is still haunted by the event, and what he did, or didn't do, after it that changed the rest of his life.
tags: coming of age / homophobia / personal responsibility / individual freedom / ya lit