Member Reviews

"The Subjects" by Sarah Hopkins is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that blends psychological suspense with a keen social commentary. Hopkins weaves a complex narrative around the lives of teenage offenders, focusing on protagonist Daniel as he navigates a mysterious rehabilitation program. The book delves deep into ethical dilemmas and the blurred lines between justice and control, keeping readers on edge with its unpredictable twists. Hopkins' nuanced characterization and sharp prose invite readers to question the nature of reform and the true cost of second chances. "The Subjects" is a compelling read that challenges perceptions and leaves a lasting impact.

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I went into The Subjects completely blind and ended up pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. As I started reading, it immediately reminded me of the Stanford Prison Experiment - never a bad thing in my books.

The book takes risks and makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. I am SO not a science person, but overall I found the science references accessible as long as I paid attention. This is not a book where you can multi-task!

It's a really well-written and thought-provoking book that deserves more profile.

Thank you to Text Publishing & NetGalley for the gifted copy to read and review.

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As we got closer I could see behind the sandstone a curved concrete building: a purpose-built structure. But still no fence, no wire. Not a bar in sight. For this, I’d been told that morning, I should be grateful. This was a ‘lifeline…a last chance’. That is what the judge said.

Daniel is a sixteen-year-old drug dealer and he’s going to jail.

Then, suddenly, he’s not.

A courtroom intervention. A long car ride to a big country house. Other ‘gifted delinquents’: the elusive, devastating Rachel, and Alex, so tightly wound he seems about to shatter.

So where are they? It’s not a school, despite the ‘lessons’ with the headsets and changing images. It’s not a psych unit—not if the absence of medication means anything. It’s not a jail, because Daniel’s free to leave. Or that’s what they tell him.

He knows he and the others are part of an experiment.

But he doesn’t know who’s running it or what they’re trying to prove. And he has no idea what they’re doing to him.


This one was really hard for me to get into. I really like the premise of this book but once starting it, it was a little difficult for me to read. I saw some really great 5 star reviews and was hoping this would be for me but it was not..

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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I loved this, I was getting "Standford Prison Experience" from the description and I was so excited to read this. It did not dissapoint and I was there were more books that took a risk like this one did

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I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, despite reading the synopsis. I found I couldn’t engage with this and it left me feeling a bit uncomfortable.

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This had a great concept, I loved the questions that it brings forward to the reader. I thought it could get bogged down at times with its explanations for why things were the way they were. But I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing what else Sarah Hopkins releases.

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This was a DNF for me. I could barely managed to sustain my attention getting started with it. Neither the plot nor the characters held me for more than a few chapters. I think Hopkins could be a really good writer, but this book just wasn't for me.

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I’m sure some will love this but it wasn’t for me. I had trouble following the plot. I finished it but kind of felt as though there wasn’t much of a plot. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC

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I have rarely read a book that seems to have so little plot but manages to keep you so hooked.

The story revolves around Daniel who avoids a prison sentence and instead finds himself in a school where he is expected to undertake therapy.

I had expected this novel to be more of a thriller based on the blurb but it’s more slow burning than that. As mentioned, not a great deal happens in the book - Daniel attends the school and there are flashbacks to what shaped him as a person. But there are so many unanswered questions and because the book is written in first person, we are only able to gather information through his character. As such, the pace of the book is quite slow.

There was a lot of information. The characters are mostly gifted and there is so much intellectual facts thrown into the book that sometimes it can muddy the actual storyline.

As the reader we are given the information that there was an inquiry about the school, but the reason why is a twist in the plot the reader won’t see coming until the author wants you to.

Overall, I thought the book was fine. It was a good read but not something I would reach for again.

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5 "intelligent, dark, riveting" stars !!

My thanks to Netgalley, Text publishing and the author for an e-copy. I am providing my honest review. This novel was released August 2020.

I am sharply surprised that this Australian YA novel was as superb as it was. I would classify this as a dramatic mystery. The novel is written in realistic and elegant prose that draws you into the minds, hearts and souls of delinquent youths who are sent to a rehabilitation program as an alternative to penal sentencing. The novel deftly explores the ethics of psychotherapy, medication and the roles of trauma, personality functioning and social upbringing bring to the table in both youth criminal behavior and psychopathology. Behind this lies more murky waters on the roles of corporations and private/government enterprise in the subjugation of those living on the fringe, or in poverty or as racial underclasses.

This is an extremely well written, thought provoking and provocative book that will keep you at the edge of your seat in a mindful rather than diversional manner.

Fuckin fantabulous !

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Unfortunately I was not a fan of this book.
I tried to persevere with it but the subject matter just wasn’t to my taste
I am sure other people will love it

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Thank you to NetGalley and Text Publishing for an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review

I didn't really know what to expect going into this. Maybe something like a weird "school" that was also a therapy session for troubled youth? And that is sort of what this was in a sense... yet at the same time it felt like this story didn't have a point beyond that.

I understand (kind of) that Daniel and the rest of the characters were subjects in this school of troubled youth instead of them being sent to juvie or somewhere not conducive to their growth as young people. I didn't understand the purpose or the outcome of them being there. it seemed as if they were studying things while being studied themselves, but nothing really happened with that. I also understand that the Doctor was in court, along with the other teachers, probably in defense of the School but it was never disclosed why they were in court in the first place.

At first I liked, not really knowing what was happening because I expected some sort of explanation later on but that never happened. I liked learning the backstories and quirks of Daniel and his friends at the School. I thought the mini-crush Daniel had on Rachel played an interesting element, and it seems to have gone beyond their time at the school or it was hinted that it did at least.

One of the confusing things that I didn't enjoy about this book were the subtle jumps between Daniel at the school and Daniel talking about the school in the future. There wasn't enough explanation from Daniel in the future for it to fully make sense or be connected to the minimal plot. It seemed like a cop-out to make the story move forward or to maybe try to make it make more sense, yet it didn't. However, when it was easy to distinguish between Daniel at the school and future Daniel, it was interesting hearing his future thoughts about what he and the others experienced at the school.

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DNF. I was unable to stay engaged as the storyline was difficult to follow and I was unable to relate to the characters in any way.

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I did not finish this one sadly. Good writing but I just didn't feel engaged in the story enough to keep on reading, I guess. Nevertheless, I'm glad I was given the opportunity to give it a go.

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Thank you for this ARC.
This was a dystopian style book based on Daniel, a teenager being reformed for his crimes. It had an interesting context and I enjoyed it.

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Did not finish this one, sadly. I think if you love sci fi, you would like this one more and I did. For me, it was hard to follow. I was really interested in the premise of this one but it just didn't work out for me.

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A mysterious benefactor rescues teenage drug dealer Daniel from his path to prison. The benefactor runs a "school" with unorthodox teaching methods, sometimes with deadly results. Hopkins creates beautifully flawed characters in an impossible situation at an already highly emotional time in their lives. At times belief must be suspended with a strong will, but this is still a story I recommend for its compelling storyline and sympathetic, vulnerable characters. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this award-winning novel from the publisher Text Publishing through NetGalley.

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Have not had a chance to read this yet, but will keep it on my list for a rainy day! Appreciate being offered the reading copy!

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This was a very intelligent and unique book, but for some reason didn’t grab me in the way I was expecting. It follows the fortunes of a 16 year old drug dealer, Daniel, who is in court for sentencing. However he escapes jail and ends up somewhere wholly different in its treatment of the prisoners. Here each teenager opts into different teaching groups for subjects that challenge him and go way beyond the average school curriculum.

Danny is narrating the events of 30 years past, but there are still so many questions about this facility. It’s asks us to think about the ethics of not sending the boy to jail - particularly from the victim’s perspective. Should such institutions exist and how do we help people move on from them? Events are narrated by Danny, and it seems clear that this is a type of school for people diagnosed with underlying disorders - Danny is ADHD but I’m not sure if all the boys are. They are permitted to play video games and the most conventional and compassionate but seems to be talking therapy and Danny gets a chance to talk about his mother’s abusive partners. It seems that all, within reason, are permitted to choose areas they can focus on such as the twins who love music. One severely depressed boy Alex, is making a study of all the suffering in the world and I wondered at the therapeutic benefit of this - maybe it released these thoughts from his head ? But surely he would encounter new events he didn’t know about and by spending long periods immersed in this wouldn’t his depression worsen. We realise there has been an inquiry into the institution’s practices since Danny’s time there. From there I felt lost, until the last few pages where we learn about the school’s experimentation on these young people. I kept expecting something way more sinister to happen, but it was as simple as the kids were being observed and recorded. That felt a bit of an anti-climax to me.

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This was a mixed bag for me. I liked sections of it but it just didn't work for me entirely. I don't know what it was but there was something missing from this for me. This had moments where it was really good but it wasn't for me really. It just seemed a bit flat too be honest.

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