The Death House by Sarah Pinborough, published by Gollancz on 29th May 2017
Toby's life was perfectly normal . . .
Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House. Isolated from the outside world the inhabitants of are watched for any signs of a mysterious illness . . .
Clara was a girl who had everything. Adored by her friends and her family, her life was destined for greatness. Now, Clara is the newest resident of the Death House and she's determined not to allow her life to end there.
This is Toby and Clara's story.
I loved Sarah Pinborough's previous YA novel, '13 Minutes' so I was excited to get stuck into her latest offering. The premise sounded extremely intriguing and immediately piqued by interest.
The story is set in a world where children undergo a mandatory blood test to find out if they are Defectives. If so, they are separated from their family and taken away to live in The Death House. Although the whole concept was fascinating, I wanted more background information. What are the Defectives, how did the problem start and how was the testing devised? Answers to these questions weren't given which left me quite frustrated at times.
The main character in the book, Toby, is one of the oldest in the Death House. He seems to have accepted his fate and is just waiting for his time to die. It's not until new girl Clara turns up that Toby finds he may have something to live for after all. Clara is like a breath of fresh air. She and Toby have an instant bond and begin to spend their nights awake together. Their feelings for each other grow throughout the story, as their relationship strengthens because of their shared experience in the House.
The theme of death seems to be one that is a recurrent in a lot of YA novels at the moment. I think in the case of 'The Death House' it had even more impact because some of the children featured are so young. You would expect them to have their whole future ahead of them and instead they are just waiting for the end to come.
The ending of the book completely took me by surprise and was quite shocking. I hadn't seen the twist coming and it was so sad and tragic. I finished the story with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart.