Book Review: The Masked Truth
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published By: Atom (Hachette Australia)
Publication Date: 13th October
Page Count: 432
Source: Advanced review copy courtesy of the publisher
Audience: YA Contemporary/Crime Thriller
Riley was in the house when the couple she was babysitting for were murdered. Never mind that she saved their daughter, she feels guilt for not doing more to save her employers. Suffering from PTSD, she is forced to attend a weekend retreat for "troubled teens".
Max hasn't spoken much during their group therapy sessions, but he's noticed Riley. While being shut in a disused office building for the weekend isn't his idea of fun, he's not heartbroken at having the opportunity to talk to her. But Max has a secret. The reason he's in therapy is not going to go away and it's not something you can explain easily to others without them freaking out.
When the building is invaded and the group are taken hostage, Riley tries to remain calm and in control, but when things start going wrong and she's forced to relive the horror of discovering her employers' bodies, her survival skills will be tested to the full.
Max struggles to tell reality from fantasy, and relies on Riley to keep him grounded. He can't afford to lose control, but he might have to.
Working together to get out of the building is paramount, but escaping might be only the beginning of their problems.
It might be a cliche, but this book really is a thrill ride. The pace is fast and the story absorbing. The tension is just relentless. Add to that two potentially unreliable narrators and you have a cracking story. But that's only half of it. I don't want to reveal anything about the second half of the book, because it was so clever. You just need to read it for yourself.
It's great to see young people with mental health issues represented in literature. The Masked Truth addresses the stigma around certain diagnoses and the prejudice that people living with these illnesses face. However, I did feel at times as though I was sitting in a psychology lecture. That may just be me, being a psychology teacher I have more than a passing knowledge of the disorders represented, but it did grate a bit at times.
You do need to suspend your disbelief to fully enjoy the story. It's unlikely that Riley's dad, a SWAT team member, would have shared much of his work with his kids, and it's even less likely that parents would sign their kids up to a weekend therapy session in an abandoned office building in a remote industrial area, but if you're able to get past that you will definitely be rewarded.
If you want something that will keep you turning pages and guessing right until the end, then this is it.
Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.
Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.
The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.
The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.
Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.