NOTE: I received the eARC from Entangled Teen via Netgalley
Sometimes I like classic book retellings. Sometimes I don't. It all depends on how good the 'new version' is and how close to the classic. Olivia Twisted grabbed my attention NOT because it's a retelling of Oliver Twist. In fact, I haven't read Oliver Twist and perhaps that was one of the reasons I requested Vivi Barnes's version at all.
I have no idea what Charles Dickens wrote in his novel, absolutely none. I guess that's why I wasn't swept into an endless cycle of comparing old vs. new and that's good. I hate it when the reading of a book goes down to comparing it to another book. All the joy is gone, and you just go through the motions to finish it. To be done with it.
Which is why I really really liked Olivia Twisted. I had nothing to compare it to, so it was its own story. It was written by a talented author, there's no doubt in that. The style was captivating, the writing was fluent, the story followed a very tight, strong plot. In other words, I was enthralled.
I'm an IT person myself, not a geek mind you, but at least I'm fluent in the tech language and coding isn't foreign to me. Which is why I was interested in Olivia to begin with. I was hooked on her story right away. I'm a sucker for foster kids' stories. I don't know why. I don't feel sorry for them exactly. I feel sad - that they won't ever experience the natural love only a true parent can give; that they will be dependent on a flawed system; that they will depend on people who are strangers to them.
But then Olivia ended up in the family of Derrick and Mrs. Carter and I thought "Well, they seem like nice people. Sure the lady is a bit reserved, but the guy seems pretty cool." And I felt happy for this poor girl who'd gone through about a dozen homes since she lost her mom.
For a sixteen year old, Olivia had a pretty well developed character. What I liked the most about her was her adamant position on the right and wrong things in life. The girl was dead honest and good to the core. I waited for her to take one wrong step and somehow fall into the hands of the villain (forgive me, Mr. Villain, I forgot your name), but she kept herself on the narrow and would rather die than fall into the hands a man with no scruples. I loved her for her strength, for how true to herself she was, how devoted to have her consciousness clean. Sure, she made a mistake or two - who doesn't? - but they didn't define who she was. And I was impressed when Mr. Villain threatened her in numerous ways, but instead of giving in, she simply kept thinking of ways to outsmart him. I loved that girl!
Z, well, what can I say about Z. Mysterious from the beginning. He pretended to be satisfied and happy where he was, with what he was doing. But it was obvious he was anything but. Mostly, he stuck around to protect the other kids in Mr. Villain's house. Z was kind of like the big brother to them all. He protected them, took the blame, recruited new kids, etc. etc. And I'm pretty sure he would've stayed in this position for quite a while because he simply didn't think he had any other options. That is until Liv walked in and swept him off his feet. He'd been waiting for his next target, hoping it would be someone who had a natural talent with coding. Someone who won't turn out like his last two recruits. But Liv is so much more than he imagined. Because she actually warmed herself into his heart and got to know him on the deepest level. In other words, Olivia changed him from the inside out. Z wasn't the same when he was with her - he had no need to pretend to be strong. With her, he could be scared, he could be unsure, he could be broken. With her, he could be Jack.
As much as I wanted to like Sam, Z and Liv's other friend, I just couldn't find it in me. She was all pretense, all business. Olivia trusted Sam, but the only thing Sam did for Liv was get her in trouble. Which is to say, not all friends are worth keeping..
In conclusion I can only say that Olivia Twisted is a very intriguing novel from beginning to end. It's something I enjoyed reading quite a lot and would recommend to all book lovers out there.
My rating is 4/5 stars