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Circle Nine Hardcover – September 13, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


An ideal adult crossover book.

With explorations of addiction, homelessness, and abuse, this book touches on some of society’s weightiest issues. This is a title for teens who like their fiction serious and gritty.
—School Library Journal

About the Author

Anne Heltzel earned an MFA in creative writing from the New School. She says of her debut novel: "I wrote Circle Nine shortly after moving to Mumbai, India, where I lived for a year and a half. It was a surreal and isolating experience at first, giving up my job and friends to move to a country I'd never even seen before. Nevertheless, the magic of the city was ever-present; my reality had, in a sense, changed entirely. This all contributed to the creation of Sam and Abby's cave-palace." Anne Heltzel lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press; 1 edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763653330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763653330
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,776,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on September 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When she wakes up, Abby can't remember anything. She doesn't know where she is, why there's a fire, or even what her name is. She doesn't know who Sam is, but she thinks she can trust him. After all, he was the only other person around when she woke, and he says he'll take care of her. Abby starts a new life with Sam, one filled with only nice and happy things--but one that is devoid of a past. Abby can't live in ignorance forever. She can't overlook the holes in her memory where she must have had a life before Sam. And when she begins to remember, her entire new world starts to unravel. Now Abby knows that there is something seriously wrong, with herself, with Sam, and with the entire situation she's been living in. The question becomes not whether Abby will able to break free--but whether she'll have the strength to live on her own.

Circle Nine is one of the more unusual psychological thrillers that I have read, and I mean this in a complimentary way. Heltzel writes from the perspective of protagonist Abby primarily in first person stream of consciousness with sporadic flashbacks. This gives incredible insight into Abby's fragile mind and allows the reader to plainly see all her thoughts, wants, and, most of all, confusion. I just loved how I was just as much in the dark as to the realities of Abby's situation as she was; this made the revelation of each new truth so savory to read about. What made Circle Nine really stand out to me from the other psychological thrillers that I've read is that the tone was slightly more contemplative rather than edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. There was much less urgency and action in the plot because the focus was more on Abby's inner struggles. As a result, Heltzel's crafting of Abby's character really shined in this novel, leading to a thoughtful and subtly thrilling read.

Circle Nine will be enjoyed by fans of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I greatly look forward to what debut author Heltzel will produce next.
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Format: Hardcover
"Circle Nine" tells the story of Abby, a teenager who has no recollection of her life before Sam - a mysterious boy she met before the fire. It's obvious from the beginning that the relationship between Sam and Abby is wrong. You know that he's hiding information from her, you know that he's hiding her from the world but you're never really quite sure why. Abby sees the cave, their home, as a palace. She doesn't see the mattress full of holes at first; she sees a king's bed. She doesn't see the roaches and the filth, she only sees the beauty. She doesn't really see who Sam is, not until Amanda shows up and forces her to start questioning things.

Amanda's presence upsets Abby's world. She feels as though she's trying to steal Sam away from her. They go out late at night together, always leaving Abby behind. Then one night, Amanda and Sam get into a fight and something happens to Amanda. She knows about Abby, she wants to take her away from there - from Sam - but he isn't going to let that happen.

As Abby begins to remember her life before Sam, as she begins to remember the fire, her parents, her sister, "Circle Nine" becomes impossible to put down. This isn't an easy book to read. Both Abby and Sam, although it's easy to hate him, are frail characters. They are broken, and for a while, they manage to complete each other...until the truth comes out.

At times its hard to follow along with the story, especially in those moments when Abby's perception of reality changes so quickly: one minute she's seeing the filth of the cave, of Sam, and the next minute she's seeing the `beauty' of their world. One sentence would state the ugly and the next would state the beauty she saw.
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Format: Hardcover
For once, I am at a loss for words! I am very conflicted as to how I feel about this book.

The writing style was very strange and I do not know if it is because I have an ARC copy or if the writer really wanted it to be this way, but the conversations all took place in italics instead of quotations. I did get used to it after a while, but then all conversation when the main character was having her memories, quotations were used? It made me think that none of the conversation was said out loud, just in each others heads.

Although the writing style was different for me, it did not deter me from reading the book. I HAD to get to the end to find out about Abby's story and what exactly happened to her. The storyline was intriguing and kept my interest until the very end.

I enjoyed the character of Abby and felt her sadness many times throughout the book. She just kept searching for the truth no matter what the cost and in the end found out that the truth may have been better hidden. I was not a big fan of Sam throughout most of the book until the end and found out how he saved Abby, but, he still was not that great of a person due to the fact that he really messed with her mind.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers, then you would enjoy this book. Do not let the writing style sway you, the storyline is enough to keep you reading. Although this book is classed as YA, there are sexual and drug references and I would recommend it for a mature young adult.

*Thanks to Candlewick Press for the ARC copy for this review.
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