‘The Rules’ – Tracy Darnton

Amber has, for as long as she remembers, been prepared by her father to expect the unexpected. As a survivalist he insisted on teaching her how to prepare for the worst. Her key rule was to ensure she followed his rules.

We’re not sure what happened, but we see Amber is in foster care. She is in the UK, and we learn her mother has died. A letter from Amber’s father has arrived from America and it immediately puts Amber on alert. She realises she will have to leave.

We follow Amber on her journey to try and learn more about her father’s plans. She doesn’t trust him, and journeys to familiar places in her attempt to learn what she needs.

For someone who is meant to be so well-trained she seems to make some silly mistakes. She places her trust in another person who used to be in foster care with her, and this results in some crazy decisions being made. Before too long, Amber’s father catches up with her and we start to glimpse for ourselves the extent to which one man’s delusions can impact on the lives of those around him.

Throughout the story I got a sense that things weren’t quite what we thought. Amber made some strange decisions, and the details of her past indicated there may be more to the story that she was telling us.

When we get to the rather explosive finale it seems to justify what Amber had told us, but it also suggested that perhaps Amber was better prepared than she wanted to let on!

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this, and I’m curious to see how this goes down (particularly in light of recent events that may have led people to question the extent to which they are reliant on others).