Phew! Adrian McKinty’s usual adult crime novels with the swearing and the sex and the violence are nothing compared to this YA novel of his. It proves what I always say; take away the adult aspects and you have to work so much harder to make a book really good.
There is little quite as frightening as the religious and rightful people of Colorado and the weird goings-on in a closed community. The Colorado set-up in Adrian’s adult Fifty Grand was nowhere as scary as Cobalt in Deviant.
14-year-old Danny moves to Cobalt with his mother and his stepfather. He is given permission to join the downright strange school in Cobalt. Students are not allowed to talk. They have to wear gloves. And among the one hundred students there are several groups that meet outside school, and they are anything but normal.
Someone is killing the cats of Cobalt, in an unpleasant, ritualistic way. The various groups compete to solve the mystery, while Danny’s stepfather works with the local convicts in a chain-gang. Old scientist Nikola Tesla plays a small part in what goes on, having left something to the school.
It was surprisingly easy for me to work out who was behind the killings, but I hadn’t bargained for a couple of little extras. Remember what people say about ‘the quietest waters’ and add to that a community where half the population seems insane, and where they don’t lock their doors.
I’d seen some bad (reader) reviews of this book, and Adrian has been resigned over the lack of worthwhile and positive interest in Deviant. I suspect early copies went to the wrong readers. This is a great book. Chilling (and I don’t mean the snow) and scary in a way you don’t see often enough. It doesn’t fit a pattern. Maybe that’s what those readers had a problem with? The writing is definitely up to Adrian’s usual high standards.
This is a quiet thriller, made all the more frightening because of it. The interesting twist near the end means I can’t stop thinking about it.
It’s dark, but this is no YA noir, as it has been labelled. It’s much darker than noir.