Published by Bloomsbury Children’s.
Review by Ashleigh Henderson.
The promising debut No Filter by Orlagh Collins captures the true nature of adolescence and revives the strong feelings of first love. At the heart of the story are individual, authentic characters whom the reader follows on their journey to overcome family complications and personal struggles. The protagonist, Emerald – a unique, captivating teenager – leaves her home of Somerset for Dublin, Ireland to spend the summer with her Grandma, Annie. During this time, Emerald encounters Liam Flynn, a loveable Irish teen and the dark secrets of Emerald’s family are discovered.
Throughout the YA novel, Collins alternates between Emerald and Liam’s perspective, enabling the reader to have a deeper understanding and connection with both characters, and so leading the story to become ever so likeable. Moreover, Collins uses a natural voice for all of her characters, particularly by including Irish slang and dialect, which enforces the distinguished tone of Liam’s character. However, in my opinion the amount of colloquialisms could be considered unnecessary and quite confusing during certain conversations. In addition, the prominence of social media throughout No Filter will identify with by many young adults and highlights the influential role social media plays in the 21st Century. For instance, Emerald refers to Instagram filters and Collins regularly uses Instagram comments to show Emerald’s struggle with popularity and self-confidence, which I find creates a relatable and realistic character for all young readers. Yet, I find some expressions to be slightly dated and old-fashioned, causing the context to become a little unconvincing.
Similar to the mind of a teenager, the plot of No Filter moves at a quick, exciting pace, propelled solely by the romance of two individuals who naturally envelop the heart of the reader; still, I feel parts of the fiction could be read as unlikely and far-fetched. Through the story of Emerald and Liam, all young adults can reminisce or dream of an unforgettable summer as the attributes of the two main characters remain genuine and distinct, providing No Filter with a sense of originality. With many unexpected twists and surprises along the way, the story becomes rather unpredictable and encourages the reader to turn every page.
A heart-warming, easy read ideal for the summer season or as a simple means of escape, but perhaps not for a reader who prefers a realistic storyline.