eARC REVIEW: The Student by Iain Ryan


34660138Title:  The Student
Series:  –
Author:  Iain Ryan
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia
Published:  3 July 2017
Language:  English
Format:  eBook
Pages:  240
ISBN: 9781760406370



Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult.
Goodreads rating: 4.00

Do bad people look like good people, like friends and brothers and boyfriends and students, until they have their hands around your throat?

Gatton, Queensland. 1994. Nate is a student, dealing weed on the side. A girl called Maya Kibby is dead. No one knows who killed her. Nate needs to refresh his supply, but Jesse, his friend and dealer, is missing. Nate is high. He is alone. Being hunted for the suitcase he’s found and haunted by its contents. And as things turn from bad to worse, Nate uncovers far more than he bargained for.

The Student is high-paced, hardboiled regional noir: fresh, gritty, unnerving, with a stark and lonely beauty.

‘A terrific neo-noir from an exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction’ – Adrian McKinty.

‘The Student takes the campus novel and mines within it a dark seam of violence, deception and suspense in prose that burns with a fierce propulsion’ – David Whish-Wilson.



My Rating and General Opinion


This turned out to be a cute (well not really that cute, if we are being completely honest) story that read like an episodic autobiography. It’s a small novel that can be read in a sitting and that although somewhat lacking you will enjoy.

I wouldn’t describe this as a thriller either. There are some mystery components but the tension is not nearly up to the standards.

The Writing

The writing felt real and it was fast paced. I liked and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The thing that got me confused were those “two” points of view we could find in each chapter. Because there was no kind of explanation you didn’t know who was it whose voice you were hearing. It wasn’t until the last third that everything got together, and the explanation was there, you knew who was talking and when were those things taking part. I understand the author used is to give our protagonist some kind of background. The idea was there, it was well executed, but it still felt a bit lacking of content or of something more elaborated.

The Story

As stories go, this was definitely not what I was expecting. I was expecting some kind of murder mystery, with a killer on the loose and some major drugs involved too, but instead we followed a drug dealer around. It’s a fact that’s not an easy life, but I guess you know what you signed up for right? Easy money always comes with soome serious problems.

I would categorize this as a novella or short story where we follow a ‘not so bad’ drug dealer who needs to make things right. Yes, there is a murder, but don’t expect to follow it because you won’t. It’s true that the girl murdered supposes a game change in this little town’s ecosystem but let’s leave it at that. We meet our dealer who is not in the best of situations, with people after him, money problems, family problems… Everything comes suddenly, fast, without a notice and he finds himself all alone and lost. On his way to solve the problems presented he finds more than one bump, that points out the darker side of this world. The plot definitely gets twisted and darker than expected from the beginning, with some crude matters and situations. The arrangement of characters presented… well they are not great people, even the ones you have hope for end up disappointing you… Although without any clear knowledge of this type of business (world), everything described here felt completely real and non fictional, for some reason. While you were reading it, it really seemed to be some kind of autobiography rather than a work of fiction.

Finally let’s leave it at this is story had potential for something more, something bigger. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either. In my mind, I categorized this as a short story because it could have been much more and I would have asked more of a novel.

The Characters

The characters just like the writing felt flawed but real, like good characters must feel. It’s true that I didn’t feel an attachment to any of the characters displayed here. I didn’t find a special connection to them but didn’t hate our main man either, so that’s a good start.

Our main protagonist, Nate, is not your typical macho man/dangerous dealer, or at least that’s definitely not how I pictured him. It’s not only that apparently people liked to hit him, but he seemed kind of pathetic, at least to be working in that environment. I felt sad for him, because he hadn’t had the best of upbringings and also didn’t have any real friends. But his situations was simply a hard one, where I understand perfectly why he had to enter in that kind of world, it was all for a good cause right?? At least for him it apparently was.
The rest of his colleages… well, if they weren’t completely out of it, they were 100% pathetic, sad, psychotic or sociopathic beings… The elusive Jesse was something not that out of the ordinary but still who saw that coming? Not me.
And his friend, Iris, more companion than friend I would say. With her my hopes were higher that they should have because instead of being truly a friend (although like Nate repeated more than was that was not their case), she ended up being a complete disappointment.


The fact is that I got an image of this Australian town that I didn’t like, at all. I know the plot centered in a drug user crowd but everyone here seemed to be a user, which doesn’t sound realistic at all. Still, I enjoyed this little story and I would recommend it if you are looking for a fast read. I wasn’t impressed but I wasn’t disgusted either!

– · – · –

I must give a big thank you to the author, Iain Ryan, the publisher, Bonnier Publishing Australia and Netgalley for approving me and giving me this opportunity. This is a completely honest review.



Iain Ryan grew up in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. He predominantly writes in the hardboiled/noir genre and his work has been previously published by Akashic Books Online (New York) and Crime Factory (Melbourne).

Four Days, his first novel, saw release November 2015 via Broken River Books. The following year the book was shortlisted for the Australian Crime Writing Association’s Ned Kelly Award (Best Debut Fiction). He has subsequently self-published three novels (Drainland, Harsh Recovery and Civil Twilight) with a fourth novel titled The Student coming soon from Echo / Bonnier Publishing.

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You can order it now here:


Amazon ES eBook (16 junio)
Amazon UK eBook (june 16)
Amazon US eBook (june 16)
Wordery paperback (july 1)
Book Depository paperback (july 1)


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