Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

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I received this book for free from Scholastic Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy ChristopherThe Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Published by Scholastic on January 7th 2014
Genres: Thriller, YA
Source: Scholastic Canada
Buy on Amazon

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.

After having had numerous recommendations for her other novel, Stolen, my first thought upon receiving this novel – in a genre that is incredibly up my alley – was that it was going to rock my socks off. And although my feet are still warm and snugly, I had a great time reading this novel that holds an awesome setting with a creeptastic premise.

The first thing I immediately noticed upon reading this book was how it was very much a show rather than tell type of writing – which I happen to prefer in mysteries. I love being left to my own devices in finding out exactly what came about; thinking up theories, seeing clues, and unraveling the mysteries. I feel like I’m a part of a story rather than the alternative of being told a story to. This is how I felt like when reading The Killing Woods. A girl was murdered, and Emily’s father is being convicted. What do we know about anybody in this novel? About the woods? The ominous “Game”? The whereabout of her father? At first, we know nothing whatsoever!

Let’s start with Emily. I won’t say I got to know her through and through, but what I do know of her I admired. How she stuck to her senses throughout, how she was smart enough to question what needed to be question, not blinded by her father’s confession. And on that note I also admired how she handled the whole shunning and borderline bullying of her peers on the matter. As this novel is told in dual perspectives, we also get Damon’s side of things who happens to be the murder victim’s boyfriend. I found this to be a unique perspective on such a story, and one that came with a lot of emotional conflict from grief to hate to self-blame. I’m not going to lie and say that I liked Damon. I mostly found him bizarre with his unbalanced thoughts that often turned into sexual forays (which, albeit normal for teenage boys, seemed to appear at the strangest of times in between thoughts of self-loathing and anger, or towards the person he supposedly hated). It’s a unique characterization, I admit, he just made me uneasy – and not in a good way.

The Killing Woods is definitely an exciting thriller with a great psychological aspect, not to mention an awesome setting. There’s just something about a creepy story set in the woods, no? Lucy makes it all impressively atmospheric with her simple yet piercing prose. The writing is easily one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Nevertheless, there are some plot aspects that bothered me. My biggest issue lies with the convenient factors scattered throughout which were not all realistic (ei the cell phone bit). Even though these are minor in the grand scheme of things it’s still a hindrance. No matter how eerie, how suspenseful, or how well written; one conveniently dropped clue too many can make quite the difference in the overall assessment of a mystery novel. Also, I’m not sure of the reason for the neighbour (Joe?) to be in this story. He didn’t really offer much for the number of random scenes he was given.

In the end, I will say it’s on the high-end of a 3-star rating and I would not hesitate to recommend it, especially to those who are fans of tension-filled mysteries.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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14 Responses to “Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher”

  1. Whitley

    “albeit normal for teenage boys, seemed to appear at the strangest of times in between thoughts of self-loathing and anger, or towards the person he supposedly hated”

    I think it’s so lazy when people characterize teenage boys like this. I mean, sure, they think about sex a lot, but the way that gets shown by shoving it into every other sentence sometimes seems…cheap and too easy. “I need to show he’s a teenage boy. I know! SEX! (And sometimes video games.)”

    But I do love me some creepy murder in the woods.

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this book, Giselle. You know how much I love my mysteries, so I’m looking forward to this one. I especially like how the author shows and doesn’t tell. That’s something I definitely enjoy in mysteries when I’m able to be invested in it as much as the characters.
    It’s a shame about Damon’s characterization though. He sounds like a weird one. Still, I’m excited for this.
    Fabulous review, Giselle.

  3. Maya

    Damien was a character I wasn’t sure about either, he was pretty weird at times. Glad you still enjoyed this, great review 🙂

  4. Savannah

    I have heard some great things about this book. I’m interested in reading since I do like mysteries. Still, your review makes me cautious about it. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Melliane

    I really need to go back to this genre, mainly when I know I really like it. I didn’t know this one and now I’ll have to see what Stolen is, I’m curious.

  6. Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

    I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, but I don’t read nearly as many as I’d like to. But now that the cold is finally coming in (even in Texas- it’s a miracle! ;)), I’m in the mood to snuggle up with a nice mystery. And this one, despite its flaws, sounds like a great one to dive into!

    I’m loving the sound of this gorgeous writing. I love books that show rather than tell, and I think it’s especially critical in a mystery when you’re trying to let the reader guess everything. It’s awesome that you were right along with the main characters, trying to puzzle through what was happening.

    However, I’m a little concerned about this Damon person. It’s nice getting such a unique perspective, but his thoughts seem seriously… weird. I don’t think that’s something I would like, unfortunately. Also, I’m curious that you mentioned this neighbor Joe. It’s so strange that he’s in there often, yet he serves no real purpose? Maybe just as a red herring??

    Lovely review, Giselle! I’m definitely going to be checking this one out now.

  7. Chel

    I’ve heard so many good things about Lucy’s Stolen but I’ve been avoiding because of the ending! Killing Woods is different though as I’m really excited to read this. So good to know that you think it’s an exciting thriller but too bad about the convenient factors. It’s a pet peeve of mine but nonetheless, still excited to read this!

  8. Amanda @ Hell-Bent to Read

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book, even if it was just moderate enjoyment, haha. I just got an ARC of this from work, and I am super excited to get started on it. I haven’t read many thriller type stories, which is odd, because those are my favorite kind.

  9. Emily

    Ooooh… thrillers!! This sounds good, though I think thrillers can really freak me out (Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn), but they can really be… thrilling too! I like the creepy vibes that seem to come from this one, but I think the plot holes could bug me more than a little bit ><
    Fantastic review, Giselle! 😀