On a beach in a run-down seaside town on the Yorkshire coastline, sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls. Nearly a decade after the horrifying murder, journalist Alec Z. Carelli has written the definitive account of the crime, drawn from hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research, and most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves. The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil. But how much of the story is true?
It may be a fictionalised true crime book, but the depictions of torture are no less corrosive for being made up. It adds to what it’s trying to critique ... So glutted with teenage-speak, obscure online neologisms, references to Taylor Swift and lip gloss that it’s hard to imagine it being enjoyed by anyone over 30. Clark’s ideal readership is precisely those susceptible 16-year-olds she writes so accurately about ... The juvenility of the book is also apparent in its simplistic approach to morality ... The form of the book, which splices blog posts, texts and googled information, captures the feeling of darting between multiple tabs on a computer. But it also means the book lacks shape. In her bid to emulate the online world, Clark is too indiscriminate.