Tuesday, September 10, 2013

ARC Review: Dead Girls Don't Lie

Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
3/5 stars
Walker Children's, 2013
331 pages
YA Contemporary Mystery
Scheduled to release September 17

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had heard good things about this author's previous book Breaking Beautiful so I decided to go for it and check out her latest to see if I'd want to circle back and read the other one. Based on the plot and writing of this one, I would be willing to check out the first book from the library. I can't say I was head over heels in love to want to buy it.

Jaycee missed the last text of her best friend Rachel's life, caught up in her first kiss and lingering anger from a fight between the girls six months previously. This haunts her as she starts to believe there was more to Rachel's death than is being shared and confirmed when she receives unlikely aid from a friend of Rachel's, sending her down a path of gangs, hazing initiations, jealousy, and racial tensions in a small insular Washington town.

For me, this book's big strength was its fast-paced. I read it all in one frantic day, barely able to put it down as each chapter only impelled me to read further. I credit this to the writing and plotting of Wolf-she really kept me on the edge of my seat.

Also of interest was peeling back the layers of racism and mistrust between the old timers of the small town and the migrant workers, some of whom may be there illegally. When Rachel is murdered, it is all too easy to lay the blame at the feet of someone who allegedly has ties to a gang or whose skin is a different color from yours. I'm not sure this was handled as thoroughly as it could have been but it might be enlightening for some people and it helped to ratchet up the tension in the beginning of the book.

But its weakness for me was its timid and naive narrator, though as the book progresses the reader gets a sense of her strong moral fortitude. I guess you could compare her to Fanny Price of Mansfield Park. She lives within her father's stringent rules and doesn't try to push the bounds of what it means to be a good girl, accepting her fate as one of the uncool. But her best friend considers her the best person she knows, someone who knows right from wrong and will diligently work to expose the truth and render justice (not vengeance, a key distinction). Saying that, even as I admire those kinds of people, they don't tend to be my favorite book characters. I like a bit more flamboyance and wit a la Elizabeth Bennet. The naivety is especially frustrating when it came to the culprit; I started having my suspicions probably later than others but it was eons before Jaycee with her trusting heart.

Overall: I am eager to hear the opinion of people who have read Wolf's previous outing as well as those who are well-versed in YA mystery/thrillers. How do you think this stacks up? Personally I think this is a can-miss. Give it a read if the concept sounds intriguing to you but otherwise, don't feel bad about passing over it.

Other Opinions:
My Guilty Obsession
Once Upon a YA Book
Proud Book Nerd

26 comments:

  1. I didn't really know much about this book till I read your review. It is interesting that in addition to a possible murder mystery it also takes a look at racial tensions.

    I'm not sure if I'll be reading it but it does sound like something I might like if I have the time for it.

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    1. I liked that it looked a little broader but I didn't love this one.

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  2. Hmm, this one sounds interesting and I agree with Christina, I like that they brought in racial tension. It kind of makes it realistic and also it's not commonly tackled in YA.

    I don't know if I want to pick it up though. You mentioned Jaycee is very timid and naive, two aspects I prefer not to have in my characters. I'll probably pass on this one but great review :)

    -Mari @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. It seemed so realistic to have these biases and bigotry represented. But Jaycee did kind of annoy me even if I was probably like her when I was that age-I'm used to a slightly more aggressive and confident heroine.

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  3. I've seen this book around a lot lately, but yours is the first review I have read for it. Sorry to hear it didn't exactly work out the way you wanted to. I may read it one day down the road, but it doesn't sound like something that I need to rush to read at the moment.

    Thank you for the honest review!

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    1. I've been surprised not to see more reviews but I'm guessing they are to come since the release date is next week.

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  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even though you didn't love it :) Like the cover, though I'm not sold on the plot. Glad you liked the writing :)

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    1. I'm glad it was a fast read-I read it in just a few hours before posting this review!

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    1. It was very easy to follow and stay connected but I wish I had had more passionate (positive) feelings about it.

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  6. I've never read anything by this author. This one sounds interesting enough, but nothing I'm DYING to read. Thanks for your thoughts. Glad it's fast-paced!

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    1. I was excited to check her out after hearing some good things about her first book; I think I would still be interested in checking it out.

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  7. The plot sounds good, I might have to try this one. Great review.

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    1. A lot going on-I wonder how fast people who are better at figuring out mysteries than me solved this one.

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  8. I haven't read anything by this author before. I like that the book was fast paced and kept you turning the pages. I also like that there are some social issues going on in the background. I don't mind naive type characters, as long as they have some strength in them as well. It sounds like Jaycee was a bit annoying, and it is bothersome when you figure out everything way before the heroine. I'm not sure this will be a book I'll pick up in the future, but thank you for bringing it to my attention with your review.

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    1. I guess Jaycee could be interpreted as having some strength-she certainly has more moral fortitude than pretty much everyone else in this book.

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  9. This one sounds pretty good- I like that it's fast paced and hard to put down. The fact that it didn't wow you has me thinking I'm not rushing out to get it, but if it falls into my lap I'd give it a try!

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    1. I think you're taking the right approach to this book :)

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  10. I haven't read her previous work either--but have heard good things about it--I like mystery/suspense in YA--there isn't enough of it, imo. Actually this one wasn't really a book I considered--but even with a simpering narrator (yeah, not my fave either) I like that the book looks at racial divides in a small town. Maybe it's my love of To Kill a Mockingbird and growing up in the South, but I will always be interested in books that feature those type of issues in them.

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    1. I liked that this was set in Washington state-not a place I think of but definitely realistic.

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  11. I liked Breaking Beautiful a lot and I hope I like this. But now you have me nervous, because I am not a fan of Fanny from MP…. there was even a YA retelling and I wasn't crazy about that either...
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I was thinking of you when I thought of the author's previous book-I am wondering how you will compare the two!

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  12. This sounds good. I've been seeing it around lately and really have been wanting to give this a try. The narrator doesn't sound like my type but I'd still like to give it a try. Great review :)

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  13. Fast paced is good. I felt that way about Breaking Beautiful too. EEE. I hope this is good. I really liked BB a lot (it also scared the crap out of me) but I've seen so many mixed reviews over this one.

    Now I feel like I should put this on the list for the weekend if you said you read it in a day.

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  14. I think you could zip through it pretty quickly (though probably not as fast as Wild Cards :)

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