Intruder – Christine Bongers – Random House Australia – Published 2 June 2014
I don’t walk past the house next door. I wish the woman who lives in it was dead. Which makes it hard . . . because she was the one who came running when I screamed. 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 could mend fences – or break her fragile family apart forever.
Kat’s life is shaken the night she wakes to find a stranger leaning over her. Her options? Agree to keep the dog her neighbour helpfully provides or spend each night with that same neighbour. In Kat’s opinion neither option is very pleasant as she is terrified of dogs after a nasty attack and is equally determined to avoid her neighbour after she betrayed Kat’s mother. So, dog it is. Enter Hercules – the world’s ugliest and loveable dog.
This is an enjoyable book. Prepare yourself for plenty of dog references, drool and other ‘by-products’. Enter at your own risk. But it doesn’t take long for Herc to worm his way into Kat’s heart (and mine), drool and all.
While the story revolves around the mysterious and creepy intruder, this book is far more than just a thriller. The suspense is merely the catalyst for Kat to closer inspect her surroundings and the people around her, prompting her to uncover family secrets and motivating her to seek companionship outsider of herself. It is Hercules who prompts Kat to connect with others, including the easy-going Al, whom she meets at the dog park. The two have an instant connection. Their friendship develops quickly but hits a few rough patches along the way before it gently becomes something more. I really enjoyed their friendship. Kat isn’t an easy person for Al to connect to, always ready to retreat behind her carefully guarded walls.
Al isn’t the only one Kat meets through Herc and soon she has people looking out for her all over her suburb. But the threat continues to loom, as does the influence of Kat’s neighbour, Edwina (Edie to those who don’t think she is a two-faced witch). The unfolding of family secrets is rather intriguing. The ending only reiterates that the true focus of the book is Kat and the people she chooses to love and include in her life. I feel the ending will spark some great conversations about why the author might have chosen to approach the ending, and the information shared, in the way that she has.
This book is set in Brisbane, Australia. All the familiar Aussie environments and references are an added bonus to this intriguing and enjoyable story about family and challenging yourself to see past the boundaries we set up to protect ourselves.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Family. Dogs. Safety and home invasion. Fathers. Grief. Friendship. Love and romance.
Age guide: Ages 11 and up.
Published: 2 June 2014 by Random House Australia
Format: Paperback, ebook. 336 pages.