N.M Browne was born in Burnley, Lancs (England) and lived not too far from Pendle Hill – the haunt of witches and all manner of strangeness. Her parents were both Welsh and teachers, and her father was also a painter. This background inspired a fascination with all things Celtic and an interest in how earlier societies survived the bleakness of a northern winter. In terms of her education and occupations, N.M. Brown went to Edge End High School then Nelson and Colne Sixth Form College, both in Lancashire. She took a “gap year”, trying and failing to get to grips with accountancy, retail and pharmaceuticals. She then went to New College, Oxford to read Philosophy and Theology and later attended King’s College, Cambridge to learn how to be a teacher. She briefly taught before going back to studying at Manchester Business School to get an MBA. After that Browne worked for an oil company as a kind of all-purpose executive person. However, when she was seven, she knew she wanted to be a writer, but it’s something she forgot about until having her second child. Now, writing is the best job Browne has ever had. Browne now lives in London, England and is the author of Hunted, Wolf Blood, Warriors of Alavna, Basilisk, Silverboy, The Story of Stone and The Spellgrinder’s Apprentice.
Today I’m going to talk about her 2008 young adult book Shadow Web. On the Goodreads website the synopsis is about a girl who Googles her name.
“Weirdly, she finds another girl, same age, same name, also living in London. They arrange to meet. At the designated time and place, Jess sees the girl, both so shocked because they realise they look identical. They shake hands and in that instant are catapulted into each other’s worlds. Jessica finds herself somewhere which looks like the London of 50 years ago, but the year is still 2008. In this parallel London, the history is different, key war memorials are missing, and the Jessica whose life she now inhabits was involved in a dark and sinister conspiracy. Jess must convince everyone she is the same girl, at all costs, if she wants to get back to her London – alive.”
The thing that interested me the most about the book was the plot – a parallel world where everything is different but it’s still the same timeline you lived in, and not to mention there’s someone out there who looks exactly like you, in every way imaginable. A synopsis like that was intriguing in itself and suggested that the book would be something worth reading. However, there’s also a hidden message behind this plot, an important lesson that our main character learns throughout her journey: it’s important to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world around you. I feel like this is something quite relevant today, in a world of technology and social media, where pop culture headlines are talked about a lot. But social media can also be a platform to look at political, economic, social events in the world, something this book reminds the reader we should update ourselves on. I think this is something important for teenagers to remember.