BOOK REVIEW: Risk by Fleur Ferris
Risk by Fleur Ferris is a young adult novel about a teenage girl that decides to meet up with a guy that she had only chatted to online, and after meeting with him she disappears. It’s a story about the dangers of the internet and how, young people in particular, are easy targets for online predators, but in addition to that, it’s also a story about grief. This quote really hit me: Something black is inside me, lurking just out of reach. I can’t quite grasp it, but it’s there, heavy, filling every crevice as I move. (Page 100.) I’m pretty certain that if I wasn’t already crying by this time, I was very close to it.
Ferris was able to capture reality and bring it to life on the page so successfully that at the beginning of the story I was cringing at the way Taylor and Sierra spoke and acted as well as the way that their feelings changed so quickly from one minute to the next. I was cringing because that was me when I was a teenager. I would gush and jump up and down and squeal and get excited over any boy that simply looked my way. As much as I’d like to think that as a teenager I spoke like the characters from a John Green novel (note: I’m a big fan of John Green’s books!), the truth is that I spoke and thought just like the characters in Risk.
I thought that the interaction between Sierra’s mum, Rachel, and Taylor was really well done because parents are human too, and their ways of grieving and their reactions to tragic events aren’t perfect or always what we expect. It would have been easy for Ferris to portray Rachel as forgiving and understanding in her grief, as I think that is the way that most of us would like to be in such situations, but it would have been much less honest. And that’s really what I love about this book, it is an honest interpretation of teenagers and parents dealing with a tragic event that could happen to anyone.
It was so accurate that it was frightening, and it made me glad that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. didn’t exist when I was a teenager because it was hard enough just dealing with all the heightened emotions and changes that a teenager goes through without having such a public place to share absolutely everything for the whole world to see. Even though I could totally relate to Taylor and Sierra, I’m not so sure that I would have met up with a stranger that I had only spoken to online. That kind of thing has always freaked me out a bit, and I don’t know if it’s simply that things have changed and that people now growing up with the kinds of technology that weren’t around when I was a teen (hell, digital cameras were only just creeping onto the mainstream market when I was in high school) are just automatically trusting of it, but I’ve always been aware of the danger in meeting up with a stranger. The internet and social media have become such an integral part of people’s lives that they are now main forms of communication. And no matter the reasons or the problems associated with technology, it is important that we, as a society, ensure that there is an understanding of the risks that we all take when we communicate or share things with people online, and this book is helping to make teenagers and parents alike aware of the dangers as well as precautions that can be taken. I really applaud Ferris for writing this book, it was highly enjoyable and educational all at the same time.
Fleur Ferris spent the first seventeen years of her life growing up on a farm in Patchewollock, North West Victoria. She then moved twenty times in twenty years.
During this time, Fleur sometimes saw the darker side to life while working for a number of years as a police officer and a paramedic.
She now lives a more settled lifestyle on a rice farm in Southern New South Wales, with her husband and three young children.
Fleur’s colourful and diverse background has given her unique insight into today’s society and an endless pool of experiences to draw from.
Risk is Fleur’s first novel for young adults.