Mini-Reviews: The Hand on the Wall, More Than Maybe, and Sawkill Girls

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Source: Borrowed

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years. 

I don’t even know what I can say about the third book in a series about a murder mystery that’s not some kind of spoiler for something. But what I will say is that I felt this book was a satisfying conclusion to both the mystery of what happened years ago and the recent deaths that have surrounded Stevie. The great reveal might not have been shocking, but it was realistic, and I’d rather have a realistic ending that makes sense than have something nonsensical happen that just makes me roll my eyes.

And, as always, the anxiety rep was great:

Anxiety does not ask your permission. Anxiety does not come when expected. It’s very rude. It barges in at the strangest moments, stopping all activity, focusing everything on itself. It sucks the air out of your lungs and scrambles the world.

I’d definitely recommend this series.


More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Source: ARC via publisher

Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.

Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her? 

I was going to write a nice, long review of this one, but I think sometimes short and sweet is better. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book as part of my participation in the blog tour and I loved it just as much as You’d Be Mine.

I think my favorite thing about Hahn’s books is the way she can just casually insert a ton of music references, but it never feels over-the-top. Vada and Luke dropped a lot of song titles in this book and I loved every minute of it. I was particularly happy to see a bunch of my favorites make an appearance!

A brief selection of some of my favorite songs and bands mentioned in this book:

In short: I loved Vada and her blog, I loved Luke and his podcast, I loved Phil and his club, and I loved this book. I can’t wait for Never Saw You Coming.


Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

You may have seen me talk before about how Claire Legrand was my librarian up until I moved to Tennessee a few months ago. She’s super nice and approachable and I really wanted to love her books, but Furyborn just did not do it for me. I took a long break and then decided to jump back in with Sawkill Girls.

This was a completely different reading experience! Sawkill Girls is a little bit weird, a little bit mysterious, a little bit spooky, and filled with a diverse, well-written cast of characters. It’s about the mysterious death of girl after girl after girl. It’s about about girls helping each other and calling out bad behavior.

My only real complaints about this book are that the story got a bit confusing at times (though it’s possible that I only feel that way because I listened to the audio at work and get interrupted pretty frequently) and the pacing seemed a little off toward the end. Still, this book was much better than I’d expected and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for some murder and empowerment.

Content warnings for:• death/murder
• loss of family members
• blood/gore
• abuse (physical and verbal)
• death of an animal
• misogyny
• acephobia (immediately challenged)
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Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA books recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: The Vanishing Stair, 19 Love Songs, & The Wicked King

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Much like with Truly Devious, I wasn’t really fully convinced by The Vanishing Stair until partway through. I was worried that this was going to be a filler book, one where the characters sort of just wander around looking for clues until we hit the final book in the trilogy, where everything finally happens. That worry ended up being unwarranted, because a ton of stuff happens in this book!

With any mystery, I’m kind of hesitant to get into details because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I just want to say that Maureen Johnson has clearly thought everything through in this series and planned out every detail in depth. I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!


19 Love Songs by David Levithan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

The New York Times bestselling author of Every DaySomeday, and Two Boys Kissing is back with a short story collection about love–perfect for Valentine’s Day or year-round reading!

A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush.

A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.”

A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing.

19 Love Songs, from New York Times bestselling author David Levithan, delivers all of these stories and more. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here.

Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. 

I’ve been reading David Levithan’s books since I was a teenager myself, so when I saw that he had a new collection of short stories out, I had to read it. Levithan has written some of my all-time favorite books (The Lover’s Dictionary, You Know Me Well) as well as some books that I’ve really disliked (Every Day, the Dash & Lily books). He’s also written a ton of books that I’ve felt indifferent about, and I won’t link all of those reviews here, but they’re all on my “all reviews” page.

The point is, I can go either way on Levithan’s writing, and I went both ways on the stories in this collection. When they were good, they were really good. I loved the story about Taylor Swift fanfiction, the story about being snowed in, the quiz bowl story, and the Santa story. I also loved all of the music references. The stories I didn’t love mostly left me bored. This isn’t really Levithan’s fault, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who connect more with those stories than I did.

Overall, I think this evens out to a three-star read for me. If you’re into Levithan’s writing, a lot characters from his previous books make appearances in these stories, so you might be pleasantly surprised.


The Wicked King by Holly Black
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Borrowed

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.


After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Well, 89% of people on Goodreads have given this book either 4 or 5 stars, and I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this series or anything. I gave the first book four stars, mostly because it really grabbed me toward the end, but I definitely thought it had a rough start.

In The Wicked King, I had many of the same problems as I had in The Cruel Prince. Jude is less annoying than she was in the first book, but she’s equally dumb. Cardan is still mostly mean to Jude (that’s the point, I know) and I didn’t buy their “romance” at all. I found much of the plot boring, and the big plot twist at the end seemed so in-character for everyone that I wasn’t really surprised at all. In 336 pages, very little happens that actually advances the plot.

And yet. For however much I disliked this book, I still want to read The Queen of Nothing to find out how everything ends.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Jealous Revenge by Octavia Singleton

Jealous Revenge by Octavia Singleton
Enjoyment: ★★★★★
Literary Merit: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Goodreads
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Source: Gift 
Mariah Calhoun is a soft, outspoken college student trying to get through her last semester. But when sister is kidnapped in the name of revenge, Mariah will stop at nothing to get her back. Betrayal, jealousy and deceit are only half the things Mariah must endure as she searches for her sister.

Buddy read with my boyfriend!

It all happened so fast: one minute my boyfriend was showing me an Instagram post about this great book called Jealous Revenge, and the next, it was sitting in my email inbox. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait. We jumped right in.

This book is an experience. I have never read anything quite like it and I doubt that I ever will again.

This is the story of Mariah Calhoun, who attends Brown University in Los Angeles, which is somehow right next to Atlanta. Yes, this is 100% relevant to a major plot point in this book. (Here’s a map for those of you unfamiliar with US geography.)

For reference, this is where Brown University actually is. (Only the other side of the country, no big deal.)

But anyway. Mariah Calhoun is a dedicated college student who is also raising her younger sister, Jayla, after their parents’ tragic death. Seemingly minutes away from graduation, Mariah’s professor attempts to coerce her into sex by withholding her rightful final exam grade. Mariah is understandably not having any of that, so she reports her professor for sexual harassment. Next thing she knows, her sister is missing.

Two rather incompetent detectives take the case, sort of flailing around as they tell Mariah that she can’t report an actual minor missing until she’s been gone for 48 hours, even with evidence that she’s been kidnapped! They decide to go out to eat before following a lead. They nicely ask to be let into the suspect’s house because they wasted their time going out for a nice meal instead of getting a warrant. It’s a mess, really. It’s a wonder any detectiving gets done on this case.

The writing is… interesting. The author will, without fail, change tense at least ten times per page, sometimes even within the same sentence. The punctuation is completely off, with commas being added in the most random places and everything just being crazy as soon as any quotation marks enter the picture. It also felt like the author read an article one time that said you should minimize how many times you say “he said” or “she said,” so she often goes out of her way to use other words, like “stated” or “mentioned” or “wondered” or “questioned.”

I would like to bless you with some quotes from this book:

Suddenly, a voice that didn’t belong to Monique or Jayla said, “I can help you”. “Who said that”, Monique wondered. “Me. I’m in here. In the vent.”, the voice said.

And on Monday morning, she was going to take over as the CEO of her parents’ business, with her newly earned bachelor’s degree.

Mrs. Wilson opens the door and says, “My husband isn’t here.”, she said to the detectives.

Have you heard of the podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno? It’s this guy sitting around with his friends, reading and commenting on this really terrible erotica written by his dad. While reading this book, I seriously entertained the idea of starting my own podcast because I had so many thoughts.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about what I didn’t like. I think I’m ready to get to the part that I did like, and that was the entertainment value. This book was so entertaining. I was on the edge of my seat! I had to know what would happen next! Would Mariah fire a perfectly capable, perfectly qualified employee who’d worked at her parents’ business for at least a decade because she and her new bachelor’s degree were ready to take his job? (The tenacity!) Would someone from Atlanta end up in Los Angeles with no recollection of how they got there? (The intrigue!) Could Mariah’s little sister become captain of the cheerleading squad after never having cheered a day in her life? (The talent!) Would people get shot just to walk around like nothing happened two pages later? (The strength!)

I never knew what was going to happen next. I was formulating all these wild theories with my boyfriend (“what if Jayla got kidnapped because she got the cheerleading captain position when she wasn’t qualified?!”) and let me tell you, they were all wrong. This might not be a piece of classic literature, but it was sure a fun read.

I don’t know what this author is going to write next, but I need to read it.


Have you read Jealous Revenge? Are you as sad as I am that the author took it off Amazon?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

I remember opening up my computer one day last year to find what seemed to be the entire book blogging world reviewing ARCs of Sadie. The love for this book seemed to come out of nowhere, and there was no one who didn’t love it. I, of course, was apprehensive about reading it. Not only does hype usually scare me away, but the themes in this book are very, very dark. I usually avoid books that deal with topics like pedophilia, child abuse, and sexual abuse, but something made me check out this audiobook from the library.

I’m glad I did.

To start, I would say that if you have the choice between reading a physical copy of this book and listening to the audiobook, go for the audiobook. It is so well-done and since a large part of the book is a podcast, I think it lends itself to audio more than print. (That said, I’m sure the physical book is also amazing.)

Now, I’m not going to say a ton about the plot because I think it’s better to learn that for yourself as you read. But, overall, this book is about the murder of a little girl, Mattie, and how her older sister, Sadie, resolves to find and kill the killer. Sadie ends up disappearing and is featured on a podcast called The Girls, which recounts West McCray’s investigation into her disappearance. The book is split between Sadie’s and West’s perspective and I was sucked in from the beginning. This was one of those audiobooks that I would only reluctantly put down and then pick back up as soon as I got the chance.

I can see how the ending might be a little controversial. I was briefly upset by it, but then I told myself that, honestly, it was the only ending that made sense. I think any other ending would have detracted from the whole point of the book, so, in the end, I’m okay with it.

I don’t think I can say enough good things about this book. I would highly, highly recommend Sadie as long as you think you’ll be okay with a dark book like this. It was heartbreaking, but so, so good.


Have you read Sadie? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Source: Borrowed

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

About a year ago, it seemed like the entire internet was reading My Sister, the Serial Killer. I couldn’t get away from it. Everyone was going on about how good it was, and I wanted nothing to do with it. And really, I had no intention of ever reading this one. But then I was sitting at my desk trying to figure out which audiobook to listen to next when I decided to filter by “most popular (global)” and “available now.” This book was at the top of the list.

This was a one-sitting kind of audiobook because I was absorbed from the beginning.

I guess, from the title, I should have suspected that family dynamics would play a big role in this book. Ayoola and Korede have a very strong relationship. They might not like each other all the time (after all, it must get tiring to clean up after your little sister every time she decides to murder someone) but they’re always there for each other, and despite everything, Korede is always trying to give Ayoola the benefit of the doubt. Their relationship ended up being my favorite part of the book.

For a book about such a heavy topic, it ends up being surprisingly light. There’s just enough humor mixed in with the serious (and, you know, murdery) topics to keep the book from feeling too weighed down. Yes, you’re reading about this cute young woman murdering all of her boyfriends, but while I was reading, I never had that moment where I thought, “Wow, I need to put this away for a second.”

It’s not often that the setting of a book plays this big of a role, either. The setting was so vivid that I almost felt like I was in Nigeria with Ayoola and Korede! The Nigerian police and their actions, in particular, really set this book apart.

All of that said, there were a few things that didn’t sit quite right with me. The biggest one that I can think of is that we’ll get a flashback to a much younger Ayoola and Korede that ends up having little relevance to the plot. The book is already very short (only 226 pages), so these scenes felt kind of like filler. I also felt like it wrapped up a little quickly, but I actually really appreciated how everything turned out in the end.

All in all, I enjoyed this one much more than I’d expected and would definitely recommend it!


Have you read My Sister, the Serial Killer? What’s the last hyped book that you enjoyed?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC Review: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out… 

In case you weren’t already aware, Mary H.K. Choi’s Emergency Contact is one of my favorite books. From the characters to the message to the excellent texting, I loved everything about it. Permanent Record was at the top of my most anticipated list for 2019, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC while at BookCon.

This book was not Emergency Contact, Part Two. Part of the blame is on me for thinking it would be. But instead of loving this book, I was really, really disappointed in it. So disappointed that I’m really just sad thinking about it. I won’t get into any spoilers in this review, but here are some bullet point reasons why I didn’t like this book:

  • The slang. In Emergency Contact, Penny and Sam talked like actual teenagers. In Permanent Record, the amount of slang Pab and Lee use is almost embarrassing. Nobody talks like that. Nobody.
  • The lack of responsibility. I get that it’s one of the main conflicts of the book, but I could not get over how literally every single one of Pablo’s problems could be solved if he’d just take some responsibility for his actions. You can’t ignore your problems until they go away, Pablo!! Life doesn’t work like that!!
  • I didn’t really see a point to it? I slogged through all 417 pages of this book only to get a non-ending. That’s not even mentioning how bored I was the entire time I was reading this book.

Am I mad that I took the time to read this book? I guess not. Did I enjoy it even a little bit? No. I’m just disappointed, but since I loved Emergency Contact so much, I’m still planning to read whatever Mary H.K. Choi publishes next.


Have you read Permanent Record? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim – their creative genius and Beatrice’s boyfriend – changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft – the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world – hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death.

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers… and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake. 

Let me tell you something: I’m really sick of reading books that I’ve already read. And Neverworld Wake? I’ve read it several times. This book is a haphazard conglomeration of a lot of trends, but it especially reminded me of a few very popular YA books:

It would be fine if this book offered something new or interesting, but it doesn’t. We have the days repeating over and over again like in Before I Fall. We have the murder mystery with nobody wanting to share what they know like in One of Us Is Lying. We have the mysterious super rich children like in We Were Liars. Neverworld Wake borrows so many tropes and yet it somehow manages to do absolutely nothing.

The concept of the book is fine — Beatrice is hanging out with her old friends when a man knocks on the door and tells them that they have to decide who will live and who will die. Crazy, right? They brush it off and go on with their lives, but then they find that they’re living the same day over and over again. As the day repeats itself again and again, they try to find their way out of the Neverworld and solve the murder of Beatrice’s high school boyfriend.

The problem is that the book tries to do a lot of things and doesn’t end up doing any of them well. The writing itself is awkward, filled with ridiculous similes like “swirls of blond hair like sugar garnishes on thirty-four-dollar desserts” and metaphors like “we are all anthologies.” Like, I get what the author is trying to say, but writing like that just comes across as pretentious and unnecessary. Half the pages of this book could have probably been cut if they’d just gotten rid of all the unnecessary comparisons.

There are also continuity issues. You see, there’s a different between an unreliable narrator and forgetting what the heck you’re supposed to be writing. Neverworld Wake finds that line, crosses it, and keeps running. You can’t brush off a huge inconsistency in the plot as an unreliable narrator and just expect me to accept it. It doesn’t work like that.

I was so, so disappointed at the end of this book for multiple reasons, but one of those reasons IS A HUGE SPOILER, so click here if you want to find out what it was!So, basically, we follow these five characters for about three hundred pages as they try to piece together what happened to Beatrice’s beloved (or was he?? we may never know) boyfriend on the night that he died. They break into a police station to try to examine case files. They interrogate his family at gunpoint. They uncover a conspiracy to hide a totally unrelated murder from years before. Despite all of this detective work, at the end of the book, we find out that EVERYBODY ALREADY KNEW HOW JIM DIED BECAUSE EVERYBODY WAS SOMEHOW INVOLVED IN HIS DEATH. What a waste of my time. It’s been days since I finished this and I’m still mad.

This book was clearly not for me. I’ve heard good things about Pessl’s other books, so I might give her another try at some point. For now, though, I’m just going to move on to something that’s the polar opposite of this book.


Have you read Neverworld Wake? What’s a book that did an unreliable narrator well?
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