Book Review: Shackled by Tom Leveen

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Title: Shackled

Author: Tom Leveen

Genre: YA Thriller

Number of Pages: 224

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No



Eh, I had pretty mixed feelings about this book but overall I’ve got to say it’s fairly forgettable stuff. It starts off with a great premise and an intriguing heroine who has the potential to be a great protagonist but it ends up falling flat in terms of execution. At the book’s opening we are introduced to Pelly, a teenage girl who suffers from crippling anxiety due to a traumatic event in her childhood. She has many problems functioning in day-to-day life and unbeknownst to her parents, she has quit taking her medication and is regularly engaging in self-injury.


She’s struggling to keep her job at a small coffee shop, and one day her life dramatically changes when she thinks she sees her best friend Tara with a strange man show up at the place where she works. Tara was abducted from the mall when they were little girls and nobody’s seen her since, and Pelly immediately sees that she looks sickly and malnourished and she gets a really bad vibe from the man. Unsurprisingly when Pelly tells people they think she’s crazy and imagining things, so she decides to play detective and find out the truth herself. She is accompanied by David, a guy she works with who she starts to have feelings for.


As far as the good aspects of this book, I think the author did a pretty good job portraying what it’s like to live with a mental illness. I found a lot of the stuff Pelly had to deal with relatable, and even though Leveen seems to mix up anxiety disorder and PTSD at times, I think over all he did a good job showing what this kind of illness is like for the sufferer, and the sense of helplessness and guilt that often accompanies it.


I think one of the biggest problems with this novel was that there was way too much focus on the burgeoning romance between Pelly and David. The book should have focused more on the crime thriller element and Pelly’s daily struggle with her anxiety, and David wasn’t a particularly interesting character. He was one of those love interests who’s such an obvious white knight wannabe that it’s hard to imagine their relationship lasting very long.


When a guy you like is filling the role of therapist for you, it’s hard to say you’re in a healthy relationship, even if his intentions are good. I also couldn’t stand the way David and Pelly’s younger brother Calvin both reprimand her for being ‘bitchy’ and she continually apologizes. The author never seems to suggest that David and Calvin are in the wrong for treating Pelly that way, not her. As for the story itself, it moves at a brisk pace and is pretty suspenseful at times, but I don’t think it’s something that will make a lasting impression on anyone. It’s one of those books that’s fun to read, but the more you think about it the more obvious it’s problems are to the reader.


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