I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I’ve never before been so conflicted to review a book I received for review. While the premise and plot were promising, the execution was not on fleek and the book needs a very thorough line edit and copy edit before it will be ready for publication. I am reading an ARC, so my criticisms should be taken with a grain of salt, but I’ve never read an ARC so far ready from publication. That being said, I did find it quite enjoyable, and I shall endeavour to explain exactly why now.
A month after her sister’s murder, Ava tries to figure out who was responsible.
Who killed Kesley? Was it Rafe, her best friend? Was it Jackson, Ava’s boyfriend? Was it May, Jackson’s sister? Was it Amanda, queen bee bitch of the schoolyard? Was it Diana, their foster mother? Or was it Ava herself? The plot doesn’t actually explore many of these options. The characters who vow to find out ‘the truth’ don’t look for evidence or clues and basically spend all of their time standing around talking about how wonderful/awful Kesley was and how they need to find out who killed her. Yet there was something about it that made me want to read on. While the premise of this novel is awesome, the plot is maybe not so. Don’t let it dissuade you though, the book was very readable.
All of the characters featured were three dimensional with background stories and motivations to act the way they did. I found myself often feeling Ava’s bewilderment and confusion when it came to Kesley’s secrets being revealed. I started the book thinking Kesley and Ava were two very close sisters sharing a special bond, and it kind of broke my heart to see that unravel as the narrative progressed and Kesey’s secrets were revealed. I really liked how the cast was largely female and the two guys involved kind of revolved around Ava. You could say love triangle, but really, Ava grows and matures in the book, and I love a character who realises one guy isn’t right for her rather than being in love with two replaceable cardboard cutouts who don’t really differ or offer her anything different. Was the romance cute? That’s probably the wrong answer. It might do it for some readers, I’m probably the wrong target audience to swoon over fictional teenager boys, no matter how bad they are.
I found absolutely nothing wrong with the writing except that it needed a very thorough line edit and copy edit to help correct chosen words and keep the consistencies that threw me off a little. I’m pretty sure these will be addressed in the final copy (in fact, I’m going to buy a paperback version, that’s how much I enjoyed it and how much faith I have in Sourcebooks editors!) so I have no real problems with the writing, except maybe keeping secrets for the sake of keeping secrets. We’re not all George RR Martin, sometimes things can be revealed rather than dragged out. I pretty much went through the entire cast list suspecting everyone of Kesley’s murder in turn and I totally did not see the big reveal coming. I kept expecting the book to go in a different direction so I was pleased and pleasantly surprised where it took me, although I still some questions about the big reveal.
The pacing was spot on, it absolutely made me want to keep flipping the pages. The whole thing was thrilling and tense and wow, that reveal, totally didn’t see it coming. Maybe some foreshadowing could have helped, it did seem a little off field. I doubt I could re-read it and go yes, that’s a clue, but honestly it seemed to be a pretty quick read anyway and just really enjoyable.
I have complete faith that once published this book will be hugely enjoyed by YA lovers, contemporary lovers, thrill-seekers and those who enjoy a good mystery. The premise was awesome and while the execution needed a little more work, it didn’t stop me from really enjoying this book. That’s why despite my criticism, it’s getting 4 stars.