Author: Michelle Harrison
Release Date: Already in stores!
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Find more reviews at: Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they’re terrifying.
Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again - and it wants Ophelia, too . . .
I've always been fascinated with astral projection and out-of-body experiences, so to find a YA book which explores both these elements? Brodie EXCITED. And Michelle Harrison did not disappoint in bringing them to life with a creepy bite and a welcome emotional depth. It's easy to sympathise with Elliott. His life has gone on a downward spiral ever since the accident, where death took hold for a good two minutes before paramedics could revive him. Ever since, his sleep has been anything but restful. Out-of-body experiences, terrifying sleep-paralysis and less-than-friendly visions from a ghost who committed suicide in his bathroom... well, you can see why he's a little screwed up. When he takes on a job at Past Lives, a haunted museum/park, in order to find out if he's crazy or actually experiencing these things, Elliott discovers things can actually worse. Spirits scarier than the girl from his bathroom, a gripping mystery that runs deeper than he could imagine and the nail-biting threat of possession. On the flip side, I found his new job inspired him to become more motivated, more alive than he had ever been after the accident, and a budding romance definitely helps balance out the creepy sh!t in your life!
Sleep is our sanctuary; where we can shut off from the stress and worries of our daily life and drift off for a few hours into a peaceful oblivion. But for Elliot, sleep is the most frightening part of his day. Imagine your spirit, your consciousness - whatever you want to call it - your sense of self, being separated from your physical body. You're no longer tangible in the solid, earthy world. You see, but cannot be seen. It's a very unsettling thing, but I find it also has the potential to be liberating and exciting at times. Though what is most spine-chilling is when something... someone... slips into Elliott's body while it's unoccupied. Someone with a purpose, fueled with furious need for it to be carried out. Michelle did an excellent job of making you share in Elliott's feelings of desperation, his terror and utter helplessness the first few times his body was possessed. To watch as someone else controlled your body, but you're unable to do anything about it? It's downright scary. Elliott has to battle for ways to maintain control, yet throughout it all - the possessions, the ghosts haunting his sleep, his exploration of his astral self - it never once felt unrealistic or over-the-top. There was always a very grounded, believable feel to the story.
Elliott has his flaws, but at heart he's a really good guy. He's very determined when he has a goal and whether he acknowledges it or not, he has quite a soft spot. I couldn't help but become emotionally invested as he struggled through everything. He develops a surprising relationship with Ophelia, a girl who also works at Past Lives. It's far from being love-at-first-sight, or even attraction-at-first-sight, and I think that's what made me all the more intrigued. There's a slow build of trust and chemistry between the pair and it was a shock to both of them as they slipped behind one another's protective shields. I like that their relationship was founded on genuine emotion and often disregard for appearance, rather than "omg you're so beautiful, I don't deserve you! angst angst angssssst!"
I didn't find any of the spirits in this book written just to scare the reader. It's true each has a dark and creeping aura clinging to him, but with patience comes understanding and revelations that will both shock and tug at your heartstrings. The mystery itself is brilliantly executed. I managed to pick up on a few vague hints much later in the novel, but the actual reveal? Oh my god. I could not tear my eyes away from the pages. As it all quickly unravelled at the end, so did my mouth. It was shocking, tragic, and downright distressing. I'm still rattled by the turn of events. It's one of those endings that will send shivers up your spine long after you finish.
Brilliant on all accounts, Unrest is sure to unnerve readers enough to sleep with one eye open. Eerily realistic hauntings, emotionally moving history and a mystery to keep you guessing, it all builds up into an incredible, yet devastating finale. Don't think for a moment you'll be able to pull away, because once the restless spirits have a hold over you, they're not too fond of letting go.
4.5/5 Golden Apples!
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