When Sebastian was 4 years old, he had picked up his father’s handgun and accidentally fired it at his 4-month old sister. For ten years, he has lived with the horrific fact that he was the toddler who shot and killed his baby sister. Despite the companionship of his new friend Aneesa to distract him from his dark thoughts, he believes it will be a gun that can put an end to his pain.
Wow. I’ve been a fan of Barry Lyga’s writing since devouring his I Hunt Killers series a few years ago and his latest book has knocked me off my feet. In the very first chapter, it jumps right into the moment where Sebastian unknowingly shoots his sister, however it’s narrated by Sebastian in a very detached and clinical way given that he was so young at the time. The use of “I’m told that I…” was very effective and eerie in conveying the cold facts.
The novel has some lighter moments, some really great character dynamics between Sebastian and his friends Evan and Aneesa and some really powerful moments with his mother and father. Lyga explores the complexities and strengths of the different relationships in Sebastian’s life in a really strong way. However, underlying those moments is a much darker tone, one where Sebastian contemplates his options on how to put an end to the suffering that his actions have caused both himself and his parents.
It is a truly heartbreaking story that could be challenging to read at times for some readers, given the nature of the plot. That being said, the narrative is so captivating and I could not put the book down. The writing is raw and hard-hitting. The mere idea of the horror that starts the plot of this story is so gut wrenching of a thought to comprehend. Once again, Barry Lyga has not disappointed. This novel has solidified him as one of my favourite authors (if his Jasper Dent series hadn’t already). I love how his books hold elements of darkness, the protagonists deal with issues of inner conflict and the characters have compelling friendships.