Tuesday, September 10, 2013
ARC Review: Dead Girls Don't Lie
Walker Children's, 2013
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.
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