Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Disappeared - CJ Harper

Pages: 376
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 31st January 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Jackson’s life is perfect, he’s top of his class, wants for nothing and is destined to be part of the leadership that runs the country. But when a violent incident leaves Jackson badly beaten and his best friend dead, everything changes. Suddenly, his teachers claim not to know him, his records are deleted...Jackson doesn’t exist anymore.

Dumped in an academy, where teachers are kept in cages and being a good fighter is all that matters, Jackson realises that to survive he needs to adapt, and fast. And, as he learns the academy’s terrible secrets, Jackson discovers his whole life has been based on lies; the leadership is corrupt to the core and they’re coming after him.

Time is running out, can Jackson destroy the man at the heart of it all before he makes Jackson disappear for good?

I don’t know why, but I expected The Disappeared to be more of a thriller than a dystopia and this threw me off a little in the beginning but I ended up enjoying it.

CJ Harper introduces Jackson’s world with mystery and intrigue. We’re immediately introduced to an incredibly elitist society and I was left what could possibly have led to the forming of a structure like that. Then Jackson’s erasure from the system occurred. Firstly, how on earth could someone manage that? And secondly, what on earth had he done? It didn’t sound like a particularly pleasant world to be in, but I was definitely intrigued by it.

My horror and fascination at the social system in The Disappeared only intensified once Jackson/Blake arrived at The Academy. I thought it was a really brilliant way for the corruption of The Leadership to be explored and it carried a very powerful message. The kids are conditioned to be dumb, violent slabs of meat. It made the importance of education and language so, so obvious and living in the Western world I was surprised to realise that that would ever or had ever been the case. Not having the ability to communicate effectively, whether it be through speech, writing or reading, was crippling to the kids in the Academy and I shared Jackson/Blake’s horror. Language really is power.

Although I instantly became involved in the world of The Disappeared, my connection to Jackson/Blake took a little longer to develop. It wasn’t until at least half-way through the novel that I began to like him. In the beginning I thought he was a bit of an arrogant douchebag if I’m being honest. I respect how CJ Harper wrote his transition in to Academy life though. It took him a long time to acclimatise to his new situation and work out what was really happening and I’m glad it wasn’t an instant ‘Look guys, you’re all living a lie’. It worked perfectly with his character. I did love Kay pretty much instantly though. She’s tough, clever and so willing to learn and fix what she discovers is wrong with how she has been brought up in.

The Disappeared is a brilliantly paced and easy to read dystopian thriller from a really promising debut author.

Thank you to S&S for providing me with a review copy.

make sure you check back here on February 3rd for a guest post from CJ on writing in a male POV for The Disappeared blog tour.



  1. Fab review - I'm almost certainly going to be buying this one :)

  2. Yes, you were expecting more thriller than dystopia - just like me. Love your point about the power of language too.


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