Review of ‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball

A compelling debut YA novel, Powerless is an emotionally gripping story about controlling relationships and the dangers of teenage girls trusting older men who then lure them into awful situations. I would describe it as a cautionary tale. Although the topics are very sensitive, the finer details are a little skimmed over, so there is nothing too graphic for the younger reader.

The narrative is told by two sisters, Abby and Beth, with an occasional mysterious narrative voice which is revealed nearer the end. The story begins with Beth suddenly turning up at the family home after being away for seven years, during which time Abby has grown up and is now fifteen. Gradually we find out what happened to Beth. The pace is quite stately until sometime after the halfway point. Then it speeds up and becomes more of a thriller. It was an interesting structure and had some good twists. I genuinely couldn’t predict what was going to happen.

Although the teenagers’ behaviour was realistic, I wasn’t convinced that they had very authentic narrative voices. To me, they sounded overly formal and tended to use expressions that I would associate with people two or three decades older than them. However, perhaps they’re just nicely-spoken!

The writing style was easy to read and concise, but I think it would have benefited from a little more proofreading, as there were some repeated words, typos and missing punctuation.

In summary, a very good, thought-provoking debut which discusses some important issues.

Published in 2021.

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