A lot of teenagers are deeply suspicious of their teachers. Surely they’re aliens? Or zombies in disguise? Or perhaps they’re just plain evil? Well, when seventeen-year-old Eve catches a glimpse of her teachers’ true colours, she realises that, if anything, she hasn’t been suspicious enough.
The Sentinel begins as a bus crash leaves a coach load of school-goers teetering on the edge of a cliff (think the finale of The Italian Job). However, there are no laughs here because violent death seems all but inevitable. That is until Eve’s teachers go all Clark Kent and rescue her from the inside of the vehicle. Somewhat annoyingly though, the teachers seem prepared to let everyone else on the coach die in order to keep what’s happened a secret. Queue a super-turn from Eve herself to prevent exactly this from happening.
Martin certainly throws Eve in at the deep end, subjecting her protagonist (and readers) to a torrent of drama right from the off. Interestingly, this fierce pace could be considered to represent the speed at which Eve’s existence changes from a normal teenage girl’s to – well, poor old Eve isn’t exactly sure what but ‘normal’ certainly isn’t the word.
Of course, the signs have always been there and, as Eve slowly realises that much of her life has been a sham, she starts to twig that a good proportion of the people (and pets!) she thought she knew were never quite what they seemed. This slow unraveling of a teenager’s world is perhaps the novel’s major strength, and is what keeps you guessing for most of the word count – just who can Eve trust?