Book review: Snakes and Ladders by Mary-Anne Scott

cv_snakes_and_laddersThis book is in bookstores now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

Set in New Zealand, this book follows the story of Finn. Finn is your average teenager – or at least, that’s what he will tell you. Ever since he moved to a new, expensive school, Finn has taken on another life by keeping his previous one a secret.

After all… who needs to know that his father is on trial for killing a woman? Although Finn is skeptical about this “posh” school, he quickly makes new friends and joins the school orchestra, where he meets Mia. Perhaps his mother was right about sending him away from all of the chaos at home?

Pleased to have a fresh start, Finn continues to keep his secret – but soon it becomes clear that he is not the only one who knows. As rumours begin to spread, Finn struggles to keep the truth under cover. Will he manage it, though? Can he cope with the pressure of living two lives? Is it worth this much effort to tell his friends so many lies? When Finn attends a party after his school ball, everything is changed.

Readers will be impressed by the believable characters that carry out the story of Snakes and Ladders; they each seem so unique yet so easy to imagine. Finn, Mia, Eddie and all the others are the sort of characters that readers will root for, despise, pity and love.
Snakes and Ladders is written with a subtle but clever sense of humour, as demonstrated here:

“That sucks!” Mia sighed into the phone. “What sort of work?”


“Ohmigod! How much do you take off?”

“All…well, as much as we can reach, but we’re supposed to strip completely.”

“Who pays?”

“The guy who owns the orchard, obviously.”

While the humour and tension of Snakes and Ladders makes it a novel well worth reading, be warned; the book progresses very slowly, making it a bit difficult to get into. That said, you will love the strong amount of suspense!

If you want a read that you will enjoy reading over and over again, try Snakes and Ladders – you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon.

Snakes and Ladders
by Mary-Anne Scott
Published by Scholastic
ISBN 9781775430407

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