Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Post Reading: Panther - David Owen


Title: Panther  
Author: David Owen
Published: May 2015 by Corsair
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Life isn’t going terribly well for Derrick; he’s become severely overweight, his only friend has turned on him, he’s hopelessly in love with a girl way out of his league, and it’s all because of his sister. Her depression, and its grip on his family, is tearing his life apart. When rumours start to circulate that a panther is roaming wild in his south London suburb, Derrick resolves to try and capture it. Surely if he can find a way to tame this beast, he’ll be able to stop everything at home from spiraling towards disaster?

Panther is a bold and emotionally powerful novel that deals candidly with the effects of depression on those who suffer from it, and those who suffer alongside them.

Every once in a while you come across a book that takes you by surprise. A sucker punch to the heart. Deceptively simple but astonishingly powerful.

All you can do is grip the book and let the tide of raw emotions wash over you. 

Panther follows the story of friendless, severely overweight outcast Derrick who is obsessed with a girl who does not reciprocate his feelings. His sister, Charlotte is fighting depression but she is not the only one struggling. 

Depression has torn Derrick's family apart and has drastically changed his life. When news spreads that there is a panther on the lose, Derrick makes it his mission to capture it. He somehow believes that in trapping the beast he would finally be able to fix his family and prevent his life from falling apart. The hunt consumes his thoughts and every time he fails to capture the beast, he feels powerless and out of control. As everything spins out of control, Derrick grapples for control. He tries to achieve control by eating believing that this time, it he who controls the terrible things that are happening to him.

Owen's portrayal of depression and eating disorders was raw and unflinchingly honest. Every emotion came to life within the pages and I felt as powerless and hopeless as Derrick did as he was swept into chaos. Mental illnesses has an effect not just on its victims but on the people around the victim too. Panther explores these struggles in a realistic way and doesn't shy away from the painful truth about depression.

I adored the way Owen had portrayed the beast as the depression and all the other terrible things in Derrick's life. His obsession with capturing the panther stems from his belief that capturing the beast means that he will finally be able to the defeat the monster that is depression. As Derrick's obsession grows reality and fantasy soon become indistinguishable.

Panther brilliantly captures the struggle that people when grappling for control when everything else is madness. Owen's compelling writing depicts the chaos of depression and the fragile balance between hope and hopelessness in an authentic manner. 

There is so much stigma associated with mental illnesses so it was absolute wonderful to see Owen tackle this subject with both the honesty and sensitivity that it requires.


4 and half Stars

Eating was the only thing left in his life that he could control. No one held any power over it but himself.
Every single time he did this, he thought the junk food - the punishment - would make him feel better. And it always did. For a little while at least. Until it came to dealing with the consequences.At least they were consequences that he'd caused himself.


David Owen's wonderful Young Adult debut, Panther snuck up on me and wrecked my heart and soul.  It is  the kind of book that stays with you even after you turn the final page. Not to be missed.

Have you read Panther? Do you know of any books that deal with mental health in a  honest and realistic way? 

1 comment :

  1. There are so many books about mental health being released in YA lately, and unfortunately it seems as if most of them are almost being romanticized in a way, so it's amazing to find one that isn't. This sounds like such a real and honest portrayal of depression, and I can't wait to give it a try soon. Thanks for putting this on my radar Nuzafia and wonderful review!

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage


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