Jimmy Patterson Books | 2020
Opening Hook: The first rule of teenage fight club is…
Main Character: Full of rage and vengeance
Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the page count
Well, once again a YA thriller and I just do not get along. No one is fucking surprised.
I really don’t want to sit here and write a big negative review for this novel because it’s an LGBTQ+ rep YA that lots of kids will flock to and enjoy and feel represented in. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.
For me, this book just didn’t work. I didn’t really like it. I was relieved when it was over. And if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I would have DNF’d it. At the most, I’ll call it a mixed bag of good and bad pieces. But at the other end of the spectrum, I’d say the writing was subpar (but that might be because of my old age,) over-dramatic and the plot was way too convoluted.
And I think we can all agree this is just way too long. It’s nearly 500 pages and I have no idea why. There is literally no reason for that kind of nonsense. The base plot didn’t require that many pages and it literally destroyed the pacing. I chalk this up to it being a debut novel. The pattern seems to be that first-time authors don’t know when to fucking cool it on detail and plot lines.
This could have been trimmed down by 100 pages, making it more streamlined with pacing that doesn’t lag. Someone get a good editor STAT.
Flora Calhoun is a teenager investigator, which every fucking main character is in a YA thriller. Jesus take the wheel. She witnesses the death of her crush, Ava, and vows to find the person responsible. She gets together her rag-tag group of helpers, including her ex-CIA grandfather (Lord help me) to figure out who killed Ava and why.
As per usual, my biggest issue with this novel is that EVERYONE IS FUCKING SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. Every action these characters take becomes more and more ridiculous to me because of this. I’ve raised two 16-year-olds. I was a 16-year-old. None of us are vigilantes in the night with Sherlock Holmes powers and a grandfather in the CIA.
Seriously, why do I keep trying with this genre? It’s not you, it’s obviously me. When it comes to suspended disbelief, mine just doesn’t extend to children doing crazy shit no child would do.
“But 16 is not a child.” YES, IT IS. And until you are no longer a child, you won’t understand. But one day you’ll be an actual adult and you’ll look back on what you thought and said as a teenager and you’ll be embarrassed as hell at your sheer ignorance. Unless you’re like a quiet, introverted book nerd who never screamed, “I’m not a child, mom!”
So, for me, once the novel started getting into political corruption storylines and the underground fight club for teen children, I was just like…
Flora was a very unlikable main character. She didn’t talk or act like a 16-year-old which was actually made worse by the fact that she had little in the way of actual character development. But the book is almost 500 pages, you say. Well, I know and that’s the fucking problem. She’s supposed to be edgy and unique, but something about her was bland and trying too hard. And at other times, moments to explore her character were completely ignored despite having so many pages to work in to give her some life that was more visceral.
Also the ending… I don’t even want to get into it.
But look, I am NOT the target audience for this genre, so take my gripes with a grain of salt and a lime wedge.
There is a super diverse set of characters in this and lots of LGBTQ+ rep. So, if you really love everything I hate about YA, or you’re around the same age as the characters, this will probably work for you.
I’m just a picky old lady who doesn’t really have time for children in adult situations.
When a girl with a troubled history of finding dead bodies investigates the murder of her ex, she uncovers a plot to put herself—and everyone she loves—on the list of who’s next.
Flora Calhoun has a reputation for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. After stumbling upon a classmate’s body years ago, the trauma of that discovery and the police’s failure to find the killer has haunted her ever since. One night, she gets a midnight text from Ava McQueen, the beautiful girl who had ignited Flora’s heart last summer, then never spoke to her again.
Just in time to witness Ava’s death from a gunshot wound, Flora is set on a path of rage and vengeance for all the dead girls whose killer is never found. Her tunnel-visioned sleuthing leads to valuable clues about a shocking conspiracy involving her school and beyond, but also earns her sinister threats from the murderer. She has a choice—to give up the hunt for answers, or keep digging and risk her loved ones’ lives. Either way, Flora will regret the consequences. Who’s next on the killer’s list?