Sif Sigmarsdottir is a new Icelandic name to look out for. She just appeared at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in Stirling, Scotland and we are delighted to review her new book The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake. For a long time I have wanted to feature a Young Adult (Y.A.) book on this blog and today is the day. Young Adult books are targeted at age 12-18 readers but often read by adults too. According to Wikipedia approximately half of all Y.A. readers are adults and books marketed as YA should also have a subject matter and be of a genre that correlates with the age and experience of the protagonist. I am more familiar with fantasy adventure YA books such as the Harry Potter series or His Dark Materials trilogy so reading a YA thriller marketed in the genre of Nordic Noir was a first for me.
The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is a thriller featuring the intertwined stories of two young women, Hannah and Imogen. Hannah moves from London to Iceland for a fresh start while Imogen, an Instagram influencer, also ends up in Iceland but all is not what it seems. This is one of the powerful messages in this story. While I did not particularly warm to any character I could empathise with Hannah and Imogen’s teenage thoughts and both characters were interesting and honest enough to keep me reading.
Sigmarsdottir has cleverly incorporated social media and the use of mobile phones by young people into the novel. Every chapter has an Instagram post detailing a description of the photo, the filter used, various text options and the actual caption used. These little insights added something unique to the story as well as providing insights to what is going on and how people are feeling privately but what they are projecting publically. One of the main themes is insecurity and how Sigmarsdottir has used the Instagram posts throughout the book to highlight this is very creative. I really looked forward to reading these parts.
The situations the characters find themselves in in the story were varied and some of them were pretty scary and intimidating. The characters’ angst and confusion seemed very real. The book deals with sexual abuse, death of a parent as well as mental health issues and of course there is a murder. It packs a lot in to one story. It has a great sense of place and use of description particularly of interiors (which I loved) and the weather. I definitely got a sense of Iceland and could recognise some of the places mentioned. The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake will make the reader think about certain practices in today’s society for example how people can be manipulated by others using technology, abuse of power and attitudes towards those with mental health issues.
Overall I thought this was a decent read. It packed a lot in, felt very contemporary, kept me reading and reminded me of the confusion and opportunities that the teenage years bring. If I had a teenager in the house I would definitely pass it to them to read.
The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is published by Hachete in paperback and ebook formats.