BOOK REVIEW: Intruder by Christine Bongers

This review does not contain spoilers.

Kat Jones is woken by an intruder looming over her bed. She’s saved by Edwina—the neighbour Kat believes betrayed her dying mother.

Her dad issues an ultimatum. Either spend nights next door, or accept another intruder in her life—Hercules, the world’s ugliest guard dog. It’s a no-brainer, even for dog-phobic Kat.

When she meets adorkable Al at the dog park, finally Kat has someone to talk to, someone who cares.

But the prowler isn’t finished with Kat. To stop him, she needs Edwina’s help … and what Kat learns next could mend fences—or break her fragile family apart forever.

Intruder was a relatively quick and easy read, as contemporaries usually are for me. I have to admit that I did sometimes get annoyed at Kat calling Edwina a witch, but if I look back to myself 10 years ago I probably would have done the same thing in the circumstances. Christine Bongers delivers the plot very well, leaving little breadcrumbs and allowing readers to come to their own conclusions before finally revealing the whole truth. And even then there’s an extra twist that I didn’t expect.

The great thing about this book is that the characters are so real. There are no wholly good or bad characters and everyone has massive flaws that they struggle to overcome. Kat’s father, Jimmy, is a prime example. I wanted to strangle him most of the time because of his incredibly selfish attitude. In spite of myself, I found a bit of affection for him by the end.

Surprisingly, though the titular intruder remains a threat, he’s not the main focus of the book. This is more about Kat’s relationships, old and new, and finally coming to terms with the events surrounding her mother’s death. At its heart, Intruder is more of a character-driven story than a plot-driven one and it works well.

At times I feel like Kat’s reaction to the intruder is a bit blasé but I think that’s more of a personal thing. Having typed court transcripts for two years I’m used to people breaking down in the witness box and being able to hear how terrified they are. Kate is too busy trying to piece her life together to break down in the way I’m used to.


The verdict

Intruder is a great contemporary YA read. Driven by characters, the plot unfolds naturally and effortlessly. I would definitely recommend this for younger teens, but the author’s narrative tone can easily capture older audiences as well.

I rate it ★★★


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