One thing that immediately struck me with How To Play Dead is the writing style of Jacqueline Ward. Her style has an immediacy, an intimacy that drew me in. The detail in her writing is both descriptive and clear. You get a sense of who each character is very quickly.
The plot is hard hitting. Set in a refuge centre for abuse victims,it doesn't hold back. The main characters are extremely well fleshed out and you feel for the victims in the novel. The chapters are short, punchy and I did like the change in narrative between the main story and Tanya's diary entries.
The story does come to a conclusion that both satisfies and does leave questions for the reader. It's a gripping insight into the bravery of the victims of abuse and a hard hitting no holds barred exploration of what abuse is like.
The only criticism I have with the novel is the book blurb where it's not made clear the content of the novel, instead making it look to this reader like it could be an action thriller rather than the important story it turned out to be. As a male reader the story made me really think, and surely that is the sign of a strong and extremely well written story.