Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier




What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?

Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the manipulation she’s capable of.

Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Che’s always been Rosa’s rock, protecting her from the world. Now, the world might need protection from her.

Title: My Sister Rosa
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: YA, Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 398
Publishing Date: Jan. 27th, 2016

Author’s Website  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Book Depository

Special thanks to my best mate, Lily, for recommending and gifting this thrilling novel to me!

My Sister Rosa is a spine-chilling and gripping read. As someone that has a 10-year-old little sister, let’s just say that this book creeped me out… a lot… but in a good way. Sometimes books are marketed as being creepy and thrilling, but they miss the mark. However, Larbalestier’s novel does exactly what it’s supposed to do — it makes you nervous, anxious, creeped out, and soon enough, you’ll be questioning if everyone you know is a psychopath. Centered around a family that seems to have multiple secrets surrounding them constantly and a little girl that knows how to lie, manipulate, and maintain an innocent disposition whilst plotting her relentless acts of calculated and cunning terror, My Sister Rosa is a novel that will keep you guessing while you navigate through the twist and turns of Che Taylor trying to determine if his little sister is truly psychotic and if she will hurt those that he loves the most.

The rest of this review is spoiler-free.

The plot of this novel was intense and full of surprises. I will admit, it took me about 100 pages for me to fully get into this book, but once Rosa’s scheming ways began to occur more and more vigorously, the pace of the plot picked up rapidly. The newly developing friendships and a bit of romance mixed in with the nerve-wracking deciphering of Rosa and her actions gave readers short breaks between the tension that began to build around Rosa and her chillingly daunting temperament. All in all, as soon as this plot really grabbed my attention, I couldn’t set the book down.

“Rosa is pushing all the buttons.”

While I really did like the ending of this novel and the plot twists that occurred, I found myself wanting just a bit more of a conclusive ending. There were a few loose ends and questions that I still had, so I’m hoping that there will be a sequel. Nonetheless, the plot twists that did happen were very unexpected and I really loved the direction that the author took the story in.

I really enjoyed Che’s character in this novel. His reactions to certain situations were realistic and his strained emotions were quite obvious as the intensity of the novel built up. Rosa was cunning and deceitful, and she was one of the creepiest children that I’ve ever read about in a YA thriller novel. Meanwhile, Che and Rosa’s parents were some of the most annoying parental figures that I’ve ever come across. There were a quite a few times where they would be so nonchalant about Rosa and the obvious faults within her personality and I would stare at my book in utter disbelief and annoyance. The side characters in this story were very well-rounded and I enjoyed when they were featured in scenes because it added some lightness to the heavy, dark plots that persisted within this novel.

The writing style of this novel was different for me because it is a novel by an Australian author. Therefore, there was quite a bit of Aussie terms/slang that I didn’t understand at first, but I actually really liked that aspect of the book. It made the main protagonist, his thoughts, and his family’s dialogue much more realistic. The author intricately described many settings and details about characters that I greatly appreciated. I would definitely pick up another book by this author, if not for the plot then at least for the brilliant writing style.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic thriller and it supplied me with the creepy storyline that I’ve been looking for in a YA novel. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a creepy-but-not-too-scary YA book that features a possibly psychotic child and a terrified older sibling, because this will surely fulfill those requirements and meet your expectations.

4 Stars

Have any of you read My Sister Rosa? What did you think of it? Comment your thoughts below!



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