Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: 'Ocean Pearl' by J.C. Burke

Ocean Pearl by J.C. Burke

Reviewed By Anna Angel

J.C. Burke’s Starfish Sisters are back; or are they? The highly anticipated sequel to Starfish Sisters, which revolves around a group of teenage pro-surfers - Ocean Pearl - sees their friendships all but torn apart by secrets and lies. This book is bursting with teenage angst, but the well-developed characters give it a pervading sense of reality; readers will get tangled in J.C. Burke’s juicy teen drama, but with two feet planted firmly on the ground.

You don’t have to be a fan of surfing to appreciate these novels; you just need to have been a teenage girl, a friend, a daughter. Ocean Pearl revolves around the relationships these girls have, their lives, and their secrets; they just happen to be kick-ass surfers. The Starfish Sisters are: Micki, a passionate surfer whose desperate home situation leaves her with plenty to hide, Georgie, who’s straining under the weight of all her friend’s secrets, not to mention some of her own, Kia, who needs the Starfish Sisters to stay together, and Ace’s, whose self-absorption could see her lose her best friend, her boyfriend and her sponsorship, all at the same time.

Five months after the Starfish Sisters first drew readers in, the girls are again at training camp, vying for a spot on the Australian female junior surfing team. Unlike when they first met, the bonds of their ‘sisterhood’ are struggling under a whole pile of lies, backstabbing, and betrayals. They’ve made a pact to stick together, and to tell each other everything, but how long can that last? Ace betrays Micki, Georgie betrays Ace, Kia betrays them all, back and forth, until the plotline is sufficiently twisted, and resembles a real life group of friends. While these books are aimed at a female, teenage audience, they’re not all boyfriends, BFFs, periods, and pashes. Along with their fair share of the former, they feature heavy topics such as self-harm, drug addiction, body image, and self esteem. This is no Saddle Club, no matter how cute the name ‘Starfish Sisters’ may be.

Ocean Pearl continues to use the joint narration of the four very different main characters to highlight their individual problems, and reveal the intricate ways in which their reflected personalities hide their true feelings. The strength of the Starfish Sisters series lies in this style of narration, as the reader is allowed understanding of each character’s true selves, and therefore no character is left as a sidekick, or a two-dimensional prototype character. Despite this being the second book in the series, and by the look of things, certainly not the last, it stands well on its own. If you’re not familiar with the Starfish Sisters yet, now is the time to get reading. This compelling sequel will leave you guessing how J.C. Burke will weave the loose-ends left over by Ocean Pearl for the next instalment.

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