Quicksand had me hooked. Completely and utterly. It's a book that ticked many of the right boxes for me. An interesting premise, check. Well written, check. An impossible situation, check. An unreliable narrator, check. And a blurb that promises what it delivers? Check, check, check.
Maja Norberg has been in jail for the past nine months, awaiting trial for a shooting at her school in Sweden. Her best friend Amanda, and her boyfriend Sebastian are among the dead. So are many of her classmates. But from the outset, as Maja begins to describe the moments following the shooting, I got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Was she guilty of what she had been accused of, innocent, or have the lines of right and wrong blurred so much that she is something in between? Is she a spoiled rich girl, a victim of an abusive boyfriend, or a bystander too weak, or perhaps complacent, to speak up when she should--not matter what the cost.
And, come to think of it, what on earth would I have done if I had been in Maja's shoes?
As Maja drip feeds the reader information, I found my theories about what happened that day either confirmed or blown out of the water. That said, this is more than a straight out did she or didn't she situation. There is also a huge level of social commentary throughout the story. Do we treat people better or worse based upon the amount of money that they have? Are they treated better or worse because of where they live? Do we expect certain things from others based upon their education, religion, race and economic situation? Sebastian is the living example of the poor rich kid, the one who has everything and can get away with everything, yet lacks a loving family, proper supervision and respect for others. Maja is equally complex--she is sharp, has an excellent insight into human nature, and yet seems to be a product of both her environment, and her own poor choices. Then again, did she ever really have any choices? She certainly lacks support from the people that she needs most.
Unputdownable, intelligent and full of surprises. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me an ARC of Quicksand.