Book Review: Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel

Synopsis (from
Who was Abby then? Who is Abby now? An unsettling psychological thriller, seen through a lost girl’s eyes.

She knows only Sam, a mysterious teenage boy. He is her sole companion; her whole life. She was born, already a teenager, lying outside a burning building in soot-stained clothes, remembering nothing, not even her name. He showed her the necklace she had on, the one that named her: Abby. Sam brought her to live in his cavepalace, where he gives her everything she needs. He loves her. He protects her from the world outside, from everyone who wants to hurt them, like the denizens of Circle Nine, Dante’s deepest circle of hell. But even in a charmed, brand-new life like Abby’s, change will come. Sam falls ill. A new girl comes to stay, and Abby begins to question Sam’s devotion. With doubt comes emotional turmoil, changes in perception, and glimpses of her past identity. In this courageous psychological thriller, Abby tells the story of living her new life and discovering her old one, while grappling with an ever-changing reality.


I went into this book with high expectations. I like psychological books that have a mystery to them so this book seemed like it was right up my alley. I thought this book would make me think about what had happened to Abby–however the only thing it made me think was WTF is going on.

You know when someone tries to be really “deep” about a certain subject and they just can’t get there? Well that’s what happens here.

I have to admit that I have never read Dante’s Inferno (it’s on my list!) but I have studied the general gist of it through my university English classes so I know the ideas and purpose behind it. Perhaps if I knew more about it, I would get more out of this (but I doubt it). From what I can see, it doesn’t play a major role in the story other than providing some context with regards to Hell so if you are looking for a retelling or adaptation of Inferno, you aren’t going to get it!

This book was just a little too out-there for me (read: it was Weird). While I can appreciate the motivation to write this novel and I understand the message the author is trying to convey, I find it falls flat.

I think the worst part is the ending–it just happens so suddenly and I felt that there wasn’t any closure. I really think that the ending of the book is the perfect opportunity to accomplish the message the author set out to give and that she lost her chance to do so by ending it as she did. An epilogue or something would have been great. I can honestly say I don’t remember too much about this novel other than the fact that I HATED the ending.


Stay clear of this one! There are better amnesia stories out there if that is what you are looking for.

Rating: 2/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Mystery, Psychological
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Reads: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

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