Member Reviews

Never Let Me Go meets Holes. This was odd, but gripping. The premise is a unique take on being sent to a “school.” Its almost a comatose experience, and I feel a little bit drained.

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DNF @20% The Subjects has a unique concept but I could not understand the way the story was constructed and because of that, I was very confused, frustrated and bored. I also did not connect with the characters as I didn’t think they had depth. This was just a personal preference because I think most people will enjoy this story because of the concept.

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DNF. Thank you NetGalley and Publisher for this early copy! I decided to not keep reading this one, it was not for me. Thanks!

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Teen criminals are being offered the chance to avoid jail by going attending a special school. What they don't know is that this school is actually a research facility and the teens will be experimented on. This synopsis gave me The Institute vibes and got me hooked in seconds. Unfortunately the book just didn't meet my expectations at all. None of the characters were particularly likeable so I couldn't connect with them or get behind them in the story. Everything was written from the perspective of a man, Daniel, talking about his time in the school, what happened there and who he met there. He didn't describe anything with much emotion which just left the whole book feeling very empty and clinical. Occasionally there would be hints about a big shocking event further into the story and even though it sort of did come to fruition it wasn't actually that shocking, in fact, I could see it coming a mile off as I'm sure most readers would. This is actually a very difficult review to write and it all just feels really blah, which is exactly how the book had me feeling. Blah, blah, nothing happened, blah broken up by huge chunks of scientific explanations about brainwaves, body responses etc.
This just wasn't a book that I enjoyed in the slightest and wouldn't know who, if anyone, I'd recommend it to.

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The premise of this book really appealed to me and I was so looking forward to it. But unfortunately the story didn’t pull me in; there weren’t any characters that I could relate to or sympathise with. There were some moments when I though I’d been hooked, but they didn’t come to fruition. I felt the characterisation of Daniel a little off, given his age, but the writing flowed.

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Nothing exciting really happened for the first 2/3 of the book. The ending wasn’t any shocking twist but rather the most logical ending. I wanted more out of it and for it to be more sci-fi than it was.

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There are a couple of points of view in this story - one is Daniel, as a 16 yo teen with a history of complex trauma, in trouble with the law for selling drugs and transported to a school of sorts for other "troubled" youth. Daniel is able to leave The School at any time according to the elusive Doctor who runs the school and he is able to "negotiate" a contract for the duration of his stay. What follows is Daniel's observations and his relationships with his peers, all behaviourally challenging and unique individuals. ⁣

The other perspective in this story is a retrospective judicial inquiry or inquest which took a bit of a shift to alternate to. The inquiry would look at the scene Daniel had experienced with narrative from other parties. So, there was an end point being the inquiry, you just weren't to know why but Daniel is present.⁣

What did I enjoy with this book? A couple of the characters were really intriguing (Daniel, proof for me that you don't have a character & Alex). I liked the author's portrayal of Daniel's complexities, his potential and capacity. I liked when there was intensity. I also liked the themes of the influence of big pharma, social engineering, and the societal propensity of labelling individuals. I liked that this is something different by a female Australian author. ⁣

What I struggled with? Some of the science in this book was a little too detailed for mind and whilst I thought I understood the intent there were points where it was just too much and I felt some readers might lose focus. If I felt I was doing this I consciously took a break. I also (probably unfairly) drew comparisons with the Institute. I thought the outcome could have been a bit more punchy and sometimes Daniel's voice was too reasoned and adult-like (I know he was supposed to be gifted) for my liking and perhaps reflected the author's view.⁣

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Sarah Hopkins is a Sydney-based criminal lawyer who has spent years appearing in the children’s court for young people trying to reduce the number of children, especially indigenous Australians, in the prison system. The Subjects was inspired by the criminal justice system’s failure to protect children who were at risk and could have been rehabilitated, as well as the overmedicalization of children.

Hopkins uses her background to create a story which at times reads like science-fiction, but given her background, might not be too far-fetched.

Full review here:

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Thought provoking book about young adults diagnosed with some kind of disorder. Daniel has ADHD, but he doesn't take his medication, instead he sells the pills, this making him a drug dealer. He finds himself becoming part of the juvenile system and his somewhat arrogant behavior makes him not very likable to me. I had some difficulties getting into the story and found myself putting the book away a lot of times in favor for another read.

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Thank you Text Publishing and NetGalley for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those slow burn books that took me a while to actually get into. The plot was confusing at first, which is understandable given that the main character, Daniel, is also confused about what's going on. I wish we got to the meat of the story faster, because the dragging beginning did make me put this down quite a lot. Once we sort of understand what is happening, however, the plot began to move forward at a better pace.

It was well written and the plot was intriguing enough for me to keep going. The characters were unique but the POV, Daniel, was super frustrating at times. He was uncooperative and I found myself annoyed at the decisions he was making. But we all have met people like that so in this sense, it was realistic .I just happen to like books more where I can connect to the characters and there was not one character that I felt drawn to in this. Perhaps it was the setting and the types of characters Hopkins wrote about, but I found it extremely hard to read about characters I didn't really have an interest in.

Overall, I would say this book is just ok. It wasn't amazing but it wasn't terrible. Just of of those middle of the road books that I feel with ether be a hit or a miss with most people.

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The Subjects by Sarah Hopkins is a novel centered around a group of troubled adolescents that have committed some sort of crime and are placed in a reform institution, rather than prison. Daniel is the lead character who has been diagnosed and medicated for a variety of conditions such as ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. We learn about crimes brought Daniel to the center and eventually the true reason why he is there. Daniel was an interesting character, yet hard to connect with at times. I found some of the other students more interesting and would have liked the book a bit more if we had their voices in addition. Some students were well-developed early on yet dropped off later in the book which was a little disappointing. At times the book was slow-paced but towards the last couple chapters it was almost a bit too fast that I think could have developed a bit more. The ending was very interesting, yet made sense. Overall a good read and at times made me reflect on mental illness and its current treatment approach, ethics, and the troubles with research.

Many thanks to the publisher Text Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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While the premise for this book had me immediately interested, unfortunately the book itself did not. The concept behind the book was very intriguing and could have been developed into something fantastic however I found this book to be quite jumbled and very slow-paced. I did want to find out what happened to the subjects in the end so did find myself skim reading to finish it. A good twist at the ending but sadly not enough to bring it above 2 stars for me.

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“The Subjects” by Sarah Hopkins follows a group of teenagers facing prison sentences for various crimes. They are offered instead a spot at "The School," a learning facility with abnormal techniques. This book dives into their incarceration, treatment, and overall view of the reformation system as a whole.

Hopkins creates an interesting dystopian vibe in the form of the school. When Daniel arrives, it apparent that something is off, but what exactly is the question. Things are veiled with weird terms like "the doctor," "group," and others. In the school setting, these terms become startling. There is an apparent feel of being watched and monitored at all times, but also a lack of urgency or fear.

I find it interesting that this school is supposed to provide a more open feeling, but the more freedom there is, the less free it actually feels. Everyone has secrets and lies and their own contracts. They are free, but limited. The freedom is too free. This created a constant tension in the back of my mind. 

In the end, I gave this book 5 stars. I loved the critique of the reformation system and mental health system in a dystopian fiction way. There was mystery as to what was truly happening and that kept me hooked throughout.

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Amazing psychological thriller... real Black Mirror vibes. I found it disturbing and addictive, and all too plausible.
I recommend it to lovers of thrillers, young adult novels with edge, and dystopian fiction.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me access to an advance digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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This is a very unique book. It has some hints of stories told before. I've even seen comparison to a Stephen King book, The Institute. Other than children in a place that is somewhat school like and they don't know the purpose of the place, I don't see any similarities. There were times when I had trouble focusing on this book. However, the times I plowed through the overthinking of Daniel, the main character, I got a very rich story. You just have to put it together yourself. It jumps all over the place in a stream of consciousness way. Daniel is retelling what happened long ago and it is coming out as he thinks of it. Daniel makes connections to everything and the text jumps around d to keep up with him.

The Subjects are children who have all been in some legal trouble. Instead of juvenile detention they end up at the school. The curriculum is not normal, but neither are the children. They all seem gifted in some way. Not Stephen King power gifted. Human gifted. We know right away that something happened there because there was an inquest. We occasionally get snippets from that preceding via whatever Daniel thinks is important to tell his story. I do wish we could have gotten more.

Overall, this was sometimes a challenging read. You had to really want to stick with it. But if you did, you got a fairly touching and thought provoking story.

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This book was definitely thought-provoking although I struggled to maintain focus. I found it overwhelming and generally not to my taste however sci-fi fans will definitely love it!

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Rating: 1.5

I was interested in the premise, but it was really hard to follow from the beginning. I didn't know what was happening at all. I didn't like the main character and none of the other characters had a personality.

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A few posts ago, I stated that I'd had several books I DNF because they just weren't of my interest. Normally I've been the person who finishes a book no matter how uninterested I am. However, with so many books to read and with so little time, I gotta keep moving.

The Subjects - I read about halfway through the book and realized I didn't know what was going on. Then I decided it was time to stop.

Nightshade - Within about 20 pages, I knew it wasn't the book for me. The writing seemed all over the place, and nothing was holding me. So then I read another 20 pages - or tried to - and knew I had to move on.

Ink & Sigil - This is the one I was most hopeful for of the three DNF. It seemed pretty good at first. A little bit of Highland folklore and Scottish culture. But then, like the other two, I found myself disinterested. There's just too many things to be doing then hanging on to a book you're not interested in.

Oh well. On to the next ones.

2/5 Stars

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Having read Stephen King’s The Institute already this year, this book felt very similar, there’s an almost uncanny resemblance. However, unlike The Institute, I still had no idea what the purpose of this book was, where it was going, at the halfway point.

The book focuses around Dan and his three friends, all of whom appear to have trauma or dysfunctional and abusive backgrounds which has resulted in them committing criminal offences. Rather than spend time in a prison, they are offered the opportunity of going to The School, to try and overcome this criminal behaviour.

Dan is clearly highly intelligent, as is evidenced through his criminal enterprise and then the lessons he undertakes, and quickly grasps, at The School. Rachel, Alex and Tod are the 3 other misfits he becomes close to,

Dan has to learn how to understand and manage his anger. When you start to learn about his childhood, you think you understand but don’t be fooled, there is a twist that I didn’t see coming.

I found it easy to empathise with Alex’s pain that comes through seeing the human suffering going on around the world, that whilst it can be alleviated, there are barriers that stop this - corruption, self-interest, ineptitude - all things that we see every day that perpetuates this cycle of suffering.

The ending of the book wasn’t so much a twist or unexpected, but it just seemed to come naturally.

I am unsure of my feelings for this book. I didn’t dislike it - it was well written, a good plot idea, a good storyline. I just think it could have been so much more, I expected so much more.

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Clever, inventive and compelling. There's just enough left unsaid throughout The Subjects to keep the story incredibly compelling. The characters are damaged, imperfect and deeply relatable, so well written that their lives feel real and important.

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