The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr – Book Review

Title: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black (review copy)

Author: Ella Black

Genre/Themes/Content Warning: Young Adult Thriller, Psychological Drama, Mental Health, GRAPHIC Animal Abuse/Killing,

Blurb from Goodreads

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for…

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago…

My Review

If this had not been an arc it would have been a straight DNF. It was one of the most amateurishly written novels I have read in recent times. The book paints itself as a twisty turny thriller but instead loses itself to cheap attempts at psychological drama and a wannabe love story so beyond the realms of far fetched that it’s utterly laughable.

The main character Ella starts out as this seemingly normal teenager with a normal life but she is hiding this darker side. She is struggling to not lose control and always be perfect, fit in etc.

Trigger warning animal abuse

A big no no for me was early in the book where Ella’s supposedly evil alter ego Bella smashed a bird with a hammer. It was disgusting and I felt physically ill as I read it. I understand the reasoning behind this scene but I felt for a YA book it could have been handled with a lighter touch by the author. It was over done and I was unable to pick the book back up for a number of days after I read it.

Soon after this incident occurs Ella is whisked away to Rio de Janeiro by her parents with no reason as to why. From this moment her life as she knows starts to unravel and she somehow has to piece together who she actually truly is.

And apparently who she truly is is a girl who falls for a boy with one of the worst cases of insta love I have ever read.

A lot of people complain about insta love but I don’t mind it if it’s handled in the correct manner and makes the reader swoon along with the characters. Anyone can immediately see someone and think they’re hot and then find themselves laughing and giggling at all their jokes: to me that’s insta like.

This however… The moment she sets eyes on Christian she sees her future. Her soul’s counterpoint. He is the only one that could ever be for her… And then when they actually meet its even more preposterous. I just couldn’t believe it as a serious onslaught of romantic emotions. I never felt any of these strong feelings coming from the characters. Instead it was simply a case of I was told as a reader that this is what was happening. There was no heart. No heat. No connection.

Things then happen that force Ella to go on the run and instead of the book giving us an insight into a character dealing with a genuine mental health problem we just get led down the rabbit hole of ridiculous event after ridiculous event.

What really lets the book down is the writing. It’s just so basic. There is no beauty to it at all. The book doesn’t feel like a final draft to me. It feels instead like a hurriedly written first draft lacking in finesse and character detailing. The ending is incredibly unsatisfactory rather than containing the necessary drama a thriller requires. Neither does it give a satisfactory conclusion to the mental health issues in the book. Instead they feel like they were purely there as a plot device rather than feeling remotely well researched or true to life.

Sadly this book was not at all to my taste and I can’t award it more than one star.

*An ecopy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Penguin Random House UK Children’s, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


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9 thoughts on “The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr – Book Review

  1. Woah… the bird being smashed got WAY too dark for me WAY too quickly. I can see why you’d want to DNF this. I don’t think I could have stayed on board even if it was an ARC, I’m such an animal person and that’s just NOPE. Hope your next book is miles and miles better Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

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