Page 45 Review by Stephen
Deep in the dark, green coniferous forest, a very long way from the bustling Metro City, a woman lies battered and broken and dead. A fly crawls across the black cloth which partially obscures her face. It will be a miracle if anybody finds her.
"Teddy! You're still not dressed? You better hurry or... "
Teddy's been studiously logging the morning Metro news. Teddy's a cape-spotter and there's been a rare sighting of the reclusive Plutona in combat high over the city's East end. It's pretty exciting!
"... You'll be late for school."
"Almost ready, Mom."
That's Diane, just applying the subtle finishing touches to her light make-up. She can't wait to wear her grey jacket to school now that it's been embellished with spiked metal studs. She's a pretty natty dresser, with a matching, skull-adorned neck chief and olive t-shirt.
"Yo! That coat looks awesome!"
"You think? Not too much? I did it last night."
"I want it."
And what little Mie wants, she usually gets. No "please", no "thank you", just "bad ass" once she's wearing it.
"I get it back at lunchtime."
She doesn't get it back at lunchtime.
Then there's Ray with his black eye. While Teddy, Diane, Mie and her younger brother Mike have been coaxed down to breakfast by their parents, Ray's been trying to raise his Dad, late for work and passed out on the sofa, beer can still in his hand.
It won't be the last time that Lemire contrasts the four households. While Ray sneers and jeers his way to what he hopes is top-dog status in the small pack at school, he's not just a big man at home. Forced to endure chain-smoked cigarettes and hours of awful television dictated by his dad, he sits there alone and friendless while in the bedrooms Mie texts, Diane plays with her new puppy and Teddy studies Plutona's history intently.
Because earlier that evening they found the body - Plutona's body - and they don't know what to do.
In a small-scale way it reminded me of Patrick Ness' 'The Rest Of Is Just Live Here' - highly recommended - in that this emphatically not about the action which precedes the main thrust of the tale (I could have done without the flashback at the end of each chapter drawn by Lemire recounting Plutona's activities the evening before), it's about what happens to the small-town kids at the periphery.
Lemire's observation of teenage tensions, strained friendships, loyalties and disloyalties - those tiny, careless betrayals that stack up - is what I enjoyed most about this book, along with Lenox's fashion sense, subtle, subdued acting and Bellaire's luminous colours. The teenagers' eyes are wide and glowing - apart from little Mie's which are pitch black. The sunrises and sunsets are splendid, with a thrilling spirit of time and place, especially at night under torchlight in the woods.
Hold on: if they all agreed to keep the secret, who's out there, alone in the woods, with Plutona's body? What could they possibly want with it?
I doubt it's who you'll expect. Also: they're not alone.