Sarah's Stars

Jaclyn Moriarty. The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Scholastic $10.99  ISBN 978-0-439-74052-4  494 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

Bindy Mackenzie has it all. Well, academically wise. She's smart, punctual, top of her class, organized and to all of her other classmates, incredibly condescending. She holds advisory classes at lunchtime for her fellow students (hardly anyone ever shows up) and to keep everything together she has unconventional study methods. She often gets stuck in reverie and unknown to anyone else, she types out transcripts of what everyone else says around her. (Something she picked up in Jaclyn Moriarty's previous novel, The Year of Secret Assignments.) All of her fellow students despise her and yet, Bindy is incredibly excited to start Year 11. But then things start to go wrong. First off, she has to participate in what she thinks is a totally unnecessary course called Friendship and Development or FAD. From the first moment she enters her gymnasium storage room, ahem, classroom Bindy hates it. She doesn't know anyone else in her group and the leader doesn't seem quite all there. But then other things start to go wrong; Bindy falls asleep in class; her grades start to lower; she feels sick all the time; and she's developed a gasp! a crush! Horror of horrors! Is Bindy just not paying enough attention in class? Is she destined to become just another average student? Or could it be...murder?!

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is a thrilling, zany tale told through letters, notes and journals. I found the format quite entertaining because a thick book is broken up into different styles that make it easier to read. Bindy herself is quirky and even though everyone around her can't stand her, when you see the story through her eyes, you can't help but like her. Three quarters of the story don't really have anything to do with murder. It's mostly about the conflicts that come from Bindy's FAD group and while interesting and fun to read I kind of found myself lulled into a false sense of what the book was all about. Imagine my surprise when I found out, holy moly! It actually is about murder! I won't say anything more about that but rest assured the title is not misleading. One thing I thought was a brilliant move by the author was the twist about the actual would-be murderers. I didn't see anything coming and while Bindy's story may seem fairly straightforward at first, it turned into a wild rollercoaster ride. So, will Bindy survive to reach Year 12? Well, I guess you'll just have to pick up a copy of the book.

I give Jaclyn Moriarty's The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie four stars.

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