Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

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I received this book for free from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Complicit by Stephanie KuehnComplicit by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 24th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Source: St. Martin's Press
Buy on Amazon

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.


Holy mother of god this book is some kind of messed up! Like, whoa! But it’s the kind of disturbing that is really wonderfully brilliant when you turn the last page, sit back and really think about it. It’s a story that will make your skin crawl, an ending that made me want to pee myself, and a memorable quality that makes it all unforgettable.

Jamie comes off as someone who is mentally unstable from the very start. Understandably so after learning the tragedy that is his childhood. And like many unsettling narrators, he immediately had me under his spell. I quickly became fascinated by his life, his thoughts, his mysterious condition where his hands go numb anytime he gets too stressed or panicked. I wanted to know his story and all of his secrets the second I met him. I knew, however, that it was not going to be a jolly ride. It would be bleak, possibly bloody, and undoubtedly heartbreaking. Kuehn delivers on all counts.

The problem with reviewing these psychologically fucked up books, is that doing so without spoilers is especially hard. It’s the type of story where the less you know going in, the better reading experience you will have. The plot itself is a big mind game; you’re made to think up endless theories, accusing every character of being evil and manipulative. The funny thing is, though, is the event in question is not impossible to guess, actually it’s quite likely that most will predict what really happened half way through the story, but no matter how much or how little you know – or think you know – the ending is bound to leave you wide-eyed, feeling unsettled and disturbed. It’s a terrible ending in every sense, horrifying even, but it’s also ingenious. It will make you want to discuss it with everyone you know, and go over every OMG and every What-if and all the possible repercussions for days to come!

The writing is superb. It has just the right amount of suspense and obscurity to make you unable to put it down for even a second. Kuehn also allows for the mystery to unravel at the perfect pace, giving us enough to lead us on the right track, but not letting the waves of dread and paranoia weaken. You will want answers, yet not; you will crave the truth with such fear and uncertainty that you will get high from the thrill of this insanity. This is my second book by Stephanie Kuehn, and both of them will be sticking with me for a long time coming.

They say the truth will set you free, but how deep would you cut to find it?


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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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23 Responses to “Review: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn”

  1. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    I have this. I need to read it!

    I totally agree with you when it comes to reviewing psychological thrillers like this that it’s hard to do so without spoiling the story for others. And also that it’s better to go into the book without knowing what it’s about. I find myself strangely drawn to unreliable narrators recently. For some reason I think the story just seems a lot better that way.

    Kickass review, girl!

  2. Tina

    Eeeee this sounds awesome. And thank you for not using spoilers for the sake of the review, even when it’s difficult!

  3. Carrie

    Oh I’ve gotta get this. This is the 2nd time I’m seeing this book around and now a 5-star rating to boot. I’m in! It sounds so interesting.

  4. Annette

    Yes, I agree. Totally messed up. But in a great way. Really enjoyed this one, and wish there were more out there like it. I’ll have to try another of his books. Great review!

  5. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    I’m so excited to read this…it’s my next book. I just love books that really mess with your head, and I’ve read my fair share of those lately, so I can’t wait to see if this will deliver like the others did.

  6. tonyalee

    “an ending that made me want to pee myself..” *dies laughing*

    AH, I am excited for this! I love WTFery books. And thanks for not spoiling me 😉

  7. Leanna

    So, this totally sounds like my kind of read! The ending sounds all kinds of shocking. I need to pick up a copy of this one ASAP!

  8. Pili

    Third super positive review for this one, and I feel like I really need to get it STAT! I’m awaiting Charm & Strange the previous book from the author to see how well I deal with her writing style, but I think I will be buying this one super soon!
    Great review Giselle and thank you for keeping it so spoiler free!

  9. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Your first word was enough to make me want to pick up this book! 😉
    I’ve been hearing so many good things about this author and this book in particular. I seriously feel like I need to read something by her to experience the awesomeness of her writing. Also, I love how everything just sounds like a complete mind-fuck!
    Great review, Giselle! And 5 stars from you must mean this is phenomenal. You don’t give those out easily. 🙂

  10. ShootingStarsMag

    Ooh that last line in your review is so genius. Very true for this book. I thought it was a great novel as well – it’s easy to guess in parts but still insane, and the end was oh so shocking!!

  11. Vyki @ On The Shelf

    I am definitely adding this one to my TBR. I love those kind of endings and I haven’t had one that left my mind blown in some time. Can’t wait to pick this one up. Great review!

  12. lily

    I’ve heard so many good things about this i added it to my TBR and just can’t wait to read it. I mean it sounds seoruisly eff’d up LOL so i need it and i’m a fan of psychological thrillers so i can’t wait to start it!

  13. Rashika

    Reading this soonish (I am moody reading :P) because all the reviews for it have me convinced I need this book in my life. 😛

    Fucked up psychological books are just so fun to read and I cannot wait to meet Jamie (who I gather is an unreliable narrator and aren’t those the best?).

    Fantastic review, Giselle!! 🙂

  14. Wendy Darling

    I’m not reading your review just yet, Giselle, but I am THRILLED to see 5 stars! I really like the author’s weirdo debut, and this one sounds like a total mindfuck, too. So happy to see that you loved it!

    • Giselle

      Lol @ Weirdo debut! I loved Charm & Strange and this one is just as messed up. Not AS weird, maybe, but def more twisted! I can’t wait to see what you think!!