V for Violet. V for Victory. V for Vengeance.
Violet White is sixteen now, out of school, and into an endless cycle of working at her mum and dad’s chippie, as is expected of her as a girl her age in 1961. Socially awkward and desperately behind on anything trending, Violet turns to her long-time best friend Jackie to show her the light in a world sashaying into the swinging sixties. But Jackie has changed since they left school. And that’s just the beginning.
Violet’s long-lost war hero brother returns after 16 years of being MIA, things are changing dramatically at home, and young girls are disappearing and being found raped and murdered. Violet prides herself on knowing when people lie; and she almost certain her brother has something he’s hiding … but what?
The first of Alison Rattle’s books that I have read, V for Violet is a historically accurate and engaging coming-of-age story wrapped inside a gripping murder mystery. The main thing I enjoyed about this novel was that the characters, especially Violet, were real, wonderfully relatable, and perfectly flawed; showing us that our lack of perfection is no barrier for saving the day. Violet is a true hero. Another point worth noting was the inclusion of LGBTQ+ content in a novel set in a time where it was dangerous for those people to be who they were. We tend to assume this wasn’t an issue historically, because there were very few who were brave enough to fight for their rights. In a nutshell, it was refreshing to see.
Something interesting to note was the clash of theme and language style. It is undeniable that the themes of sex, murder, and rape are suited for older audiences; however the language level and writing style suggested the target audience was younger. Unfortunately, this did impact my opinion of the story. I believe Rattle may have overplayed her hand with the characters a bit and I was expecting a cleverer way of keeping the audience guessing about the identity of the murderer, which is why I believe it is suited for younger audiences. Also, the killer’s motive was a bit underdeveloped, as though Rattle hadn’t thought in depth about potential motives; I was expecting more.
Regardless, this book is a riveting novel perfect for Year 9 – 1o high school students who enjoy a good mystery. Violet is a simply lovable character and you will only put this book down after you read every last word. I give V for Violet by Alison Rattle nine out of ten.
Reviewed by Saoirse Hill-Shearman
As part of the Allen & Unwin YA Ambassador review team
V for Violet
by Alison Rattle
Published by Hot Key Books