Book Review: THE TRIAL by Laura Bates

Title in green on pink next to hands holding an island
Genre: Contemporary
Age Range: YA
Star rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone
CW: sexual assault, abusive relationships


Book cover for THE TRIAL: title in green on a girl in a tank top holding an island

No matter how you try to hide it, the truth will always come out . . .

After a plane crash sees a group of seven teens washed up on a desert island, their first thought is survival. But a terrible secret from a party the night before has followed them ashore. Facing deadly threats and the fear of being stranded forever, they quickly discover that being the most popular kid in High School doesn’t help when you’re fighting to stay alive.

As the island deals each of them a dangerous blow, it’s clear that someone is looking for justice. Now survival depends on facing the truth about that party: who was hurt that night, and who let it happen?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


As you’d expect from a feminist campaigner, this is another book that dismantles the sexist, misogynistic behaviour that permeates our culture. It tackles a lot of tough topics, but they’re things that need to be talked about.

The book is a modern retelling of Lord of the Flies, with a few references, but also digging into violence against women. The horror of survival comes first in the book, then segues into the horror of someone starting to attack the others, as the hints about what happened at the party come out.

There’s a quote on the back of the book, saying that the author’s fiction debut needs to be read by girls. No, these sorts of books need to be read by everyone. There’s no point just talking to girls about these things – we already know the danger and we already spend our lives dealing with them. But we shouldn’t have to. It’s the culture and the men and boys who have to change, and so they need to be talked to about these issues, made to read things like this too.

This book explores rape – clearly showing that it’s ANYTHING that’s non-consensual.

I liked that the book both showed the boys trying to dodge the issue, claiming their behaviour was OK – or that a girl being raped was actually an offense against them, as they were the boyfriend and so they should be cared for too, or that she gave “the signs” but then changed her mind, so it wasn’t rape it was her being “loose”. These are really common reactions and to see them decimated was really good.

Plus, the book also explores how girls are told that they’re the ones at fault, and the arguments about whether it was rape or not included them saying no. Because we have been told all of that – that the victim is to blame. Been told that there’s no point pursuing justice because the guy’s career and reputation is more important and that no one will believe us anyway. It’s only in talking about these things that there is hope of change.

Read my reviews of other books by Laura Bates:


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