Written by Amanda Panitch
Published August 3rd 2015
Thank you to Random House Australia
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22 minutes separate Julia Vann's before and after.Before. Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.After. She has a new identity, a new hometown, and a memory of those twenty two minutes that refuses to come into focus. At least, that's what she tells the police.Now that she's Lucy Black, her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school. And someone much more dangerous. She thought her brother's crimes were behind her. But now she's being forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind. How far will Julia go to keep her slate clean?One thing is clear. The damage done can never be erased. It's only just beginning...
Lucy Black isn't who she says she is, she's not an only child nor is she the well adjusted teen she portrays. Lucy's name is Julia Vann, she's the twin sister of the boy who shot eleven students in the music room at her former school, having come home to her parents packing her belongings and moving to escape the scrutiny of the brutal and senseless killing spree. Ryan was always a troubled child with both he and Julia having an extraordinarily close relationship, bordering on unnatural and invoking the whispers of their peers. Ryan hurts animals, he wants nothing more to keep Julia safe and away from others who may occupy her time. Enlisting the professional services of Doctor Spence, a man who believed he could help Ryan and worked with the teen up until the day he decided to take multiple lives, sparing Julia's in the process as she watched those around her bleed out.
Now in her new life as Lucy Black, Julia is being followed by Ryan's former doctor and it seems he might hold the key to what lead Ryan to open fire on his fellow students that day. Does Julia remember more than she claims in the twenty two minutes in the time it took for Ryan to enter the classroom that day, and for Julia to be the only person to walk away from the massacre?
Damage Done is chilling. Twins Julia and Ryan share a bond and even as children, becoming each others shoulder to lean on and source of strength as they age. Their relationship seemingly goes beyond the realm of twin or sibling even, with even their peers questioning how healthy their bond truly is. So Julia begins pulling away, dating and sharing her life usually reserved for Ryan and Ryan only. But Ryan's issues begun long before their teens, as a child he was vengeful and violent, taking his frustration out on animals, eventually leading to putting other children in harms way. But not Julia. Never Julia.
My brother was not kind to the people who'd wronged me.
Ryan maybe have been officially diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, but Julia's character was horrid. She was abrasive and likened popular boy and love interest Micheal to reminding her of her brother, leaving no doubt as to the closeness of their sibling relationship. Her past experience with the shootings led her to be incredibly paranoid and an unreliable narrator, with a storyline that are told in the present, while providing memories scattered throughout. It was deliciously intense in it's pacing and I enjoyed seeing the story handed to me in snippets to piece together.
The only major flaw I found was how predictable it seemed. The romance would have been more plausible had love interest Michael been acting on lust, rather than love. He seemed to form a connection with her based on appearance, and when he did question her, he allowed himself to be silenced with kisses. Julia is a liar and it's clear she uses her own brand of manipulation to lure others into her web. I'm fairly certain readers will predict the big reveal long before the final few chapters, but in no way does it detract from how sinister this storyline truly is.
Damage Done will appeal to lovers of psychological young adult thrillers, who enjoy the unreliable narration of a disturbed and toxic character. Am incredible debut that lures you into the storyline and despite it's predictability, will seize your attention until the final page.