Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Publication date: July 16th 2013
by Simon Pulse
It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.
As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...
This is a book that has gone seriously under-noticed and that’s a shame because it’s brilliant! And even though it’s a tad predictable, I would have disappointed if it would have ended differently. It was a daring and manipulative story – and I’m a sucker for those!
This is the story of Elise’s murder, told in the perspective of the prime suspect – her best friend. In a way, this reminded me of a YA Jodi Picoult novel. You have the murder, followed by the trial – which lasts for most of the book, and this is where you learn the details of what happened filled with secrets and lies that give just enough clues to make you crazy – then at the end all is revealed with the help of a carefully crafted twist. Out of all the YA murder mystery books I’ve read this is easily one of the best. Clues and secrets are unraveled at the perfect pace, and it’s so meticulously plotted that you begin to doubt everything about everyone. That, to me, always makes for an awesomely addictive read. And like I mentioned, even if I correctly guessed the culprit about half way, it still had me doubting my own theories where I would go back and forth between suspects. I was highly impressed with how the author decided to craft this story.
Friendship is a huge part of this novel, Elise and Anna’s especially. They had a very… intense friendship. It was quite interesting to see their relationship develop into this kind of toxic love. There’s also Anna’s romantic relationship with Tate which remains uncertain after she’s in custody. Then we have the rest of the group who seem to turn against her as soon as she’s a suspect with only circumstantial evidence. The whole group dynamic has many layers that I found increasingly fascinating with each one I peeled back. This is helped with an asshat prosecutor – and the media – who dig up things about the characters that keeps us on our toes (even though I wanted to kick these people in the face!). We stumble upon many different motives based on betrayals and revenge to keep us guessing the whole way through.
The ending: I loved. Waiting for the judge’s decision had me so anxious I thought I would hyperventilate along with Anna. But what happens after is what I enjoyed the most about the ending, maybe even the whole book. I highly recommend this one for those of you who are looking for a YA mystery done right. It’s daring and unapologetic, even shocking at times. It’s a great novel to buddy-read because you will want to discuss and dissect it afterwards, I guarantee it!