By: Cyn Balog
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Mystery
I've enjoyed Cyn Balog's work in the past and this one sounded deliciously creepy, so I thought I'd give it a go. I was not prepared to deal with an unreliable narrator and the darkness that saturated this one. It will certainly appeal to mystery lovers with its twists and turns, but I don't think I was the right reader for this novel.
The main character, Victoria Zell, is a loner at her high school. She exists on the fringes as an observer, but she keeps everyone at bay. Her visits with her school counselor glean little information as Victoria doesn't believe anything is amiss in her life. Life changes when Z enters the picture. His fate is intertwined with Victoria's from that first moment they speak in English class.
The events of the novel unfold in an intriguing way. Each chapter begins with an interview, newspaper article, or police report excerpt. You know from the beginning that someone has died, but it's not immediately clear who it is or who is behind it. The remainder of the novel is told from Victoria's perspective as she tells the story to her boyfriend, Andrew. It becomes obvious very early on that Victoria has some things she is working through which make her storytelling unreliable. Also, I found that I wasn't rooting for Victoria as the novel progressed. In the end my issues with her made sense, but it made for some frustrating moments as I was reading. I also never found myself firmly on Z's side. Out of all the characters, Andrew was the most likable, but his experiences with his stepfather were heartbreaking. Those segments were some of the most difficult to read.
All in all, this is not a super happy book, which one would expect from the title, cover, and description. It's a lot darker than the previous Balog works I have read. I applaud her for trying something new and forging an intriguing mystery that left me feeling haunted. I just don't think I was at a place to truly enjoy this one. I'd like to revisit it in the future to see if my opinion changes when I am more in the mood for a dark, intense read that focuses on obsession. It has some Single White Female elements that will be brought to life for a new generation.
One Last Gripe: I felt like Victoria's parents should have been more involved in their daughter's life.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The twists
First Sentence: Police are investigating an apparent homicide after a body was found in a wooded area early Tuesday morning.
Favorite Character: Andrew
Least Favorite Character: Z
Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.
Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.
And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.