The novel that introduced my to Aussie author Fleur Ferris – a wild cat and mouse game from killers in the Australian outback. A totally underrated writer that deserves more hype!
Book Review – ‘Found’ by Fleur Ferris
Putting Australian YA Authors on the international map
Genre: Y/A, Mystery, Thriller
No. of pages: 276
What happens when someone else’s past catches up with you?
Elizabeth Miller had lived in Deni her entire life. In a small rural town, Beth’s biggest problem is telling her protective and fiercely private father that she has a boyfriend.
But when her dad disappears before her and Jonah’s eyes, Beth discovers that he isn’t who she thought he was. Her family’s secret past has caught up with them, and someone wants her dead.
Beth has been unwittingly prepared for this moment her entire life. Can she find a way out before they find her?
I really like the way Fleur Ferris crafts a story. She creates an air of mystery and intrigue, and masterfully writes actions scenes that have me gripped to the page, eager to see what happens next. A small downside to this is there is a slight feeling of obvious plotting. ‘Found’ isn’t quite organic and believable. But it is only a minor part. I still enjoyed ‘Found,’ and could see it all play out like a movie in my mind’s eye.
Beth (Elizabeth) Miller discovers her father has been abducted, and from there secrets start spilling out… her life, her family is not what it seems. The only rock in these crazy revelations is her boyfriend, Jonah, but even things come to light that put that into jeopardy. Beth’s father, Bear, has raised her in militant style in an isolated Australian country town. Big on survival skills, Tae Kwon Do, practicing at the shooting range. All throwbacks to his military career. Beth suffers through it, but some of the activities she really loves. What struck me first about Beth is the tomboy protagonist who doesn’t indulge in girly things like dresses and makeup and is apparently some hidden beauty. I’d roll my eyes at this trope. But the thing is – I grew up in places like this. Kids are really like that. Riding around on bikes, hanging out together because there’s not much else to do. Even the girls I went to high school with, Beth could be at least half of the population of my classmates. So this protagonist could be polarising to readers outside Australia, seen as falling into the ugly duckling tomboy trope, when in fact it is representative of life in a lot of small remote towns in Aussieland. I found Beth a bit dry and boring – it was always about following rules and getting down to business, but she was always observant and intelligent. All of those traits helped her survive. A dippy sarcastic teen would have perished in the first act.
‘Found’ is a beautiful nod to the Aussie psyche and small town living. It made me nostalgic for my youth.
Told in dual perspectives, the second POV, that of love interest Jonah does help add dimension to the plot as both characters are in different places, thinking different things, and uncovering different clues to the overall plot. Usually dual perspectives can be a bit of a yawn because it’s just telling the same story from a different angle, but Fleur ensures Jonah drives the narrative on his own. Distinctly masculine and completely believable. He is fallible, and quite possibly not as smart as Beth. He pays the consequences for his rocky decisions. There are even revelations in story arcs not relating to the main story that I found delightful.
‘Found’ is a gripping, fast read. While it did not blow me out of the water, and had some issues with believability, I was nonetheless entertained and completed it in two sittings.
Fleur uses some Aussie slang in the narrative that threw me. While, as a native, it’s the dialogue we use in our heads, it was confronting to read them in print. I would have preferred keeping the narrative to correct English and leave the slang in dialogue as not to pull the reader from the narrative. I also feel another pass from an editor would have benefited ‘Found’ just to tie up some misspellings, missed words, grammar issues and tighten the plot a little… and maybe add some interest to our two leads. I like me a few quirks or awkwardness. Maybe a few more comical moments to break the tension in key moments.
I will say the second half of the novel, after a certain event was spot on. I’ve lived through something similar and it dragged out all the feels and had me re-living the experience.
Fleur has all the makings of a fantastic author and definitely someone I am now a huge fan of. Viva la Ferris!
Definitely recommend this one, some great action scenes and a gritty protagonist representative of a true Aussie.
I can’t say I predicted what was going to happen in ‘Found’ it literally surprised me with every turn. Absolutely brilliant.
And on a side note, loving the cover art. I’ve now got all of her published works and they have the same aesthetic. Single word titles, simple bold font and muted photography. Even though they are all standalones, the collection looks like a set and is a great marketing concept – making an instantly recognisable book on the shelves as that of Fleur Ferris.
Overall feeling: A great new author discovery and some nostalgia mixed in with a teen action storyline.
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My favorite YA mystery/thriller writer at the moment. Fleur Ferris you are amazing!!