Megan Abbott's latest novel, The End of Everything, conjures up more than a few words: unique, perceptive, observant, fascinating and disturbing are just a few of them.
Written from the perspective of 13-year-old Lizzie, whose best friend Evie goes missing, the generously paced novel examines teenage sexual exploration and discovery, the feelings that come hand-in-hand and lives changed for ever by actions unchangeable.
Lizzie and Evie are inseparable friends — almost the same girl at times, with no secrets. They live in a 1980s Midwest suburb, in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister, Dusty, who "provides them a window on the exotic, intoxicating possibilities on their own teenage horizons".
It is a time of change, growth, exploration, fascination and perfection for the girls.
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While Abbott's characters might perceivably be naïve at times, her characterisation of them certainly isn't.
She gets right inside her narrative character Lizzie's head, becoming a teenage girl once again, enveloping herself in the feeling, emotions and grief felt by inseparable best friends.
The page-turning pace will have any reader glued, with chapter after chapter of flowing text.
Abbott's unique writing style has thankfully been left intact by her editors.
"This, I know. I don't know how, but I do. Like I know too that she is not dead, not buried in three feet of dirt, not coated in pearly lime. No, she is not dead, she is lost, lost. Missing. Gone. There's lots of things behind those words, and I can't look at them now. But I feel them."
The staccato tone here places emphasis on Lizzie's feelings, letting the reader into the mind of the emotionally charged 13-year-old.
Fellow author Kate Atkinson described Abbott's book as "deft, intelligent and enthralling". The way she has written the book, with clarity, depth and intelligence, is likely to launch this excellently crafted novel into the bestseller lists.
The End of Everything is Abbott's sixth book. Crime novels Die a Little, The Song is You; Queenpin and Bury Me Deep preceded her tale of teenage angst and adult complicity.
She won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award in 2008 for Queenpin, in 2010 she was nominated for Best Paperback Original for Bury Me Deep and in 2006 Best First Novel for Die a Little. She has been nominated three times for the Anthony Award (Bouchercon World Mystery Convention award) and in 2008 won the Barry Award (Deadly Pleasures and Mystery News award).
Her short stories have been published in Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir (2006); Wall Street Noir (2007); Detroit Noir (2007); Storyglossia; and Queens Noir (2007).
In 2003, Abbott also published the non-fiction title The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir.
She also edited the Edgar-nominated A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir, featuring stories by 25 mystery and crime authors.
Abbott was born in the Detroit area and now lives in Queens, New York. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in English Literature and received a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University.
Nearing the end of her sixth work, it seems Abbott couldn't resist using fundamental crime novel plot techniques she has probably garnered from previous books.
In true formulaic crime-novel style, there is a surprising, unexpected plot twist near the end.
What Abbott has formulated is far more than just a typical summer novel. It is more of a sharply observed, dark comprehension of the nature of the teenager.
The End of Everything has been called The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides, 1993) meets The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold, 2002) and is the lead summer novel for publishers Picador.