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A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide. Seventeen-year-old Kerryl Shaw and her family live on a remote farm and think they will be safe, but the plague advances. Despite deaths around them, the Shaws survive. However, this changes when a stranger arrives, and it soon becomes apparent he has brought the infection to their door. One by one the family succumbs, leaving Kerryl alone.
Kerryl is sure it’s only a matter of time before she, too, dies. She decides to record what she thinks will be her final days in a diary. She realises that it will never be read, so she imagines a reader and calls him Adam. As loneliness and isolation affect the balance of her mind, Adam ceases to be an imaginary character and becomes real to her as unexplained events build fear and menace.
Novels take many months, even years, to write and yet occasionally one comes along that speaks directly to the thoughts and fears of its time. Paradise Girl is one such novel with Featherstone delivering a riveting and compelling read that scores high when it comes to originality. Unpretentious, he draws us into a dystopian setting that’s convincing as a possible reality, with a metaphorical darkness about it, and in doing achieves a level of emotional impact that reflects the tragic scope and human resonance of mankind’s last days. Dystopian novels remain popular and are plenty but Featherstone elevates his above the run of the mill apocalypse offering through his choice of narrative and his ability to take us into the bruised heart and mind of his young protagonist with his prose conveying more than just dialogue and incident. Through diary entries and press clippings, he sets the scene in a tone that allows for both drama and suspense with neither feeling discordant. Yes, it’s aimed at YA readers but Paradise Girl has an emotional impact that is sure to engender broader appeal as Featherstone ramps up momentum and leads us towards what is a clever and above all satisfying denouement.
A refreshingly original and intelligent YA Dystopian novel, Paradise Girl proves a great introduction to Featherstone’s unique literary voice and is recommended without reservation.
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I was born and brought up in West Yorkshire, England, and trained as a teacher. I managed to survive teaching in London, Hampshire and Leicestershire and then spent five years as an education adviser. I live with my wife, Sally, in a farmhouse on the pennines in Brontë country. In 1997 Sally and I started a publishing company specialising in books for adults to use with young children. Sally's the EY expert - I did the business management. We must have done something right, because in 2007 we won the IPG Education Publisher of the Year award. In 2008 we sold the business to Bloomsbury Publishing. They continue to publish books of ideas for people working with young children that Sally and I write, although I now concentrate on fiction.
My first novel is 'Paradise Girl' (actually it's the 3rd I've written, although the first to be published). Despite the title, it's neither chick-lit nor erotica, but tells the story of a 17 year-old girl who finds herself alone when everyone else has died from an incurable virus. It came out in paperback and eBook here and in the USA in January 2017.