Today starts the blog tour for The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield. This is a young adult contemporary novel about a small village that gets put under quarantine after an unknown deadly virus breaks out. I have a review for you, but please be sure to check in with the other tour stops throughout the week! A big thank you to Xpresso book tours for having me on the tour. 🙂
Make sure you also enter the giveaway at the bottom – you have the chance to win a copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift card!
About the Book
The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield
Publication date: July 18th, 2017
Genre: young adult contemporary
The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.
But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?
Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.
As you can probably imagine, The Smallest Thing is a bit of a slow book. With everyone stuck within the confines of the small village Eyam, there’s not a whole lot that can happen. Some readers may worry that this makes the book dull or uninteresting but rest assured that’s not the case. Although the pacing was a bit slow in the beginning, The Smallest Thing manages to intertwine desperation, tension, and extraordinarily high stakes in a way that makes for an incredibly engaging story. Readers will surely empathize with Emmott, as she sees her friends, family, and neighbors struggle to fight off a deadly virus with no known cure (or even a cause).
Emmott goes through a lot in this book. Days before she’s planning to move to London with her boyfriend, her village is placed under quarantine. She’s been desperate to leave Eyam for a long time, wanting to explore the world and see more than what her dull home has to offer. So when that opportunity is taken from her (at least for now), she’s understandably angry and upset. She feels trapped and as a result, acts out whenever possible. But over the course of the story, Emmott begins to see that her village – and her family – is not exactly what she thought. She starts to realize there was more in front of her than she noticed and starts to appreciate what she has as she realizes that it may all be taken away from her at a moment’s notice. I loved seeing this growth in her. At such a young age, she’s forced to realize things that many people don’t until much later in their lives, perhaps when it’s too late.
Aside from her growth, I really just loved who Emmott is. She’s independent, yet vulnerable. She’s sometimes impulsive, yet can be very logical and intelligent. She was a very real character – not overly perfect, but not overly terrible either. She was written very well and ended up being an incredibly well-rounded character. She’s pretty much your average 17-year-old and I loved that.
I also loved seeing the family dynamics between Emmott and her dad. At the start of the novel, they’re a pretty stereotypical father-daughter duo. Emmott loves to take risks, sneak out, and rebel against her dad while he is a bit over-controlling and perhaps unwilling to see that his daughter is growing up. But as they’re forced to face the quarantine together, they realize how much the things they fought over just don’t matter and they really get close to each other. As the rest of Emmott’s family is away on vacation, her dad is really all she has during this quarantine. I really loved seeing their interactions and seeing them grow closer and closer throughout the book.
I have to also mention how incredibly emotional this book could be at times. Obviously, there’s a lot of suspense and fear because of the virus and its unpredictability. In such a small village, every infected person is someone Emmott knows and as a result, each time someone falls ill or dies, it hits close to home. Suddenly people Emmott has known since she was born are dying all around her and it’s a lot for her to handle and process. There were quite a few times where I was close to tears, as I couldn’t help but imagine how terrifying that would be, especially at such a young age. People she’s taken for granted as a constant part of her life are suddenly at risk of dying. She’s forced to face her own mortality and the mortality of those around her, which again, leads to very emotional moments.
It’s probably pretty easy to see that I really enjoyed The Smallest Thing. My only complaint is that it was slow at first and it really took me some time to get immersed in the story. However, as things pick up this becomes a book that you simply cannot put down for more than a few minutes. You’ll find yourself desperate to turn the pages, to see what happens to Emmott and her loved ones as this virus spreads throughout her little community. It’s an emotional ride, but one well-worth the investment.
Content warnings: death, illness, mention of suicide (no on-page attempts)
Thank you to the publisher and Xpresso Book Tours for having me on this tour and providing me with a copy to honestly review.
About the Author
Enter to win a copy of The Smallest Thing and a $50 Amazon gift card!