Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Publication date: March 3rd 2015
by William Morrow
The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.
Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly—a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession—but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.
Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.
Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.
-A copy was provided by William Morrow for review-
I don’t even know where to start with this one. I love a good mystery/thriller, and I also love gritty contemporaries. This book is both of those, but I just didn’t feel it. I wasn’t a fan of the MC, and I thought that this was very drawn out and it bored me at times. The mystery really is pretty good, but being the sleuth I am, I did connect the dots before we are given the reveal. I do think that this book had a lot of potential, and there are great parts of the story, it just didn’t have me needing to keep reading. In fact, most of the time I wanted to yell at the MC and tell her that she was a bit crazy and stupid.
Grace is haunted by the memory of her sister. She was murdered and she isn’t buying the story that was told by the authorities. Grace has always been different from her sister. While Nica loved being the center of attention, and always seemed so fearless and knew what she wanted, Grace has always just been the quiet one. She never stepped on toes, or went to parties. Not to say that she didn’t enjoy things like tennis, and want to go to college. Grace just wasn’t into the party scene, or boys, or any of that typical stuff. That is, until Nica is gone. Grace becomes addicted to prescription drugs and even goes to a party dressed to look like Nica. When things happen after that party, her life will be forever changed. She is more determined than ever to find out the truth of what happened with her sister.
There is a bit of a weird romance in this too. Damon, (I think that’s his name anyways) is someone who seems like the bad boy. Grace knew who he was before, but she gets to know him better when she starts working for his uncle. She learns much more than she bargained for with him, but she is also slowly starting to maybe care for him in an odd sort of way. Probably the only way she knows how with how messed up things in her life are.
There are all sorts of issues going on in this book. Prescription drug use, alcoholism, neglectful parents, and some mental issues. Not to say there isn’t a good story here, I just really didn’t care for the characters much at all. If I can’t care about the characters, the story won’t really mean much to me either. It came to the point where I was curious about if I was right in who murdered Nica, and I did want to see if Grace would find out things about the night of the party, but I wasn’t dying to continue reading until the end. You know when you just want to finish because you have already invested the time? That was how this felt to me. Maybe it was just me. I did like the darker tone of the book, and the mystery aspect was done well with not just one mystery, but a few. For that I have to say it was entertaining, but it was just lacking feeling and it felt more like I needed to accomplish reading it, then that I really wanted to finish it. I hope that others enjoy this more than I do.