Author: David Owen
Published: May 2015
Genre: YA, Mental Health
Date read: 27th October 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I am finding it really difficult to review this book, as I am really not sure about it to be honest.. I think I saw one booktuber haul this a few months ago but havent seen much of this going around. I saw this at my local library and due to the striking red cover I remembered watching it being hauled. I didn’t pick it up though for weeks, it was sitting in the same spot with no one reading it. So in the end I thought I would give it a go as it’s quite short and I felt this book was calling out to me to be read. Plus I read it for #YASHOT which was hosted by fluttering butterflies but posting it way too late sorry!
It took me to the end of the book to realise that there is also a boy on the front cover aswell as a Panther.
Derrick is a very unhappy young man, since the sighting of a Panther in the area it seems everything has been going wrong for him, his older sister charlotte is suffering from depression and attempts to commit suicide, he has started eating to the extreme where he is literally eating out of a rubbish bin (this really made me cringe) and becomes severely overweight. To make matters worse his best friend dumps him and he becomes a target for bullies.
Derrick starts to become obsessed with catching this Panther. He believes that if he succeeds everything will return to normal, his sister will get better and attend university, he will lose the weight and his dad will return home and the fog that is looming of their household will clear.
Depression and Mental health issues can be a tricky subject to tackle and David Owen has done a great job. Depression is often termed as the black dog but I thought the way he used a panther/beast as the metaphor was perfect.
This book shows that it’s not just the person with depression suffers, everyone around them also gets sucked in, home feels like a thick fog where everyone feels uneasy, conversations are being avoided and coping mechanisms are being exhibited, such as Derricks food obsession to remain in control and his mother’s spending and buying stuff for Charlotte’s move to University.
The panther/beast describes depression very well. At times this was difficult to read and Derrick wasnt the most likeable character but the book was interesting, well written and thought-provoking.
The only thing I wasn’t sure about is that throughout the book, it’s not really clear if the Panther is real or not and the ending just didn’t satisfy me enough – I wanted more closure.
This is David Owens first Young Adult novel.
Overall I rate this 3.5 out 5 stars