Murder. Fire. Revenge.
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.
Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.
I received a free advanced copy through NetGalley- this has in no way affected my review.
PLOT: Let me start by saying that I think a lot of how much people enjoyed this book was very much linked to whether they guessed the ending or not. I did not, so I rated it higher than some. The plot took me a long time to get into. I haven’t been in the mood for contemporary, so even though I started this a month and a half ago, I put it down and didn’t pick it back up until I needed a shorter read for day 2 of the read-a-thon I’m participating in. It started out well, but there was so much you didn’t know, and I was so into my audiobook re-read of Graceling that I just didn’t want to read more. When I did pick it up again, I felt like I was powering through a lot of places just to get through to the journal entries. I understand the need for some suspense, but I felt that a lot of the time spent on the present was a little bit repetitive. It all came down to the cafeteria, calling Chase names, and pining over Jason, the lost love.
Honestly, it was only toward the end that I started to really get into the plot. Once Alice starts unraveling the truth, and you start to understand what’s going on (at least for me- I really wanted to know what happened to Cellie) you just get this feeling of utter disbelief- like, “Wow, did that really just happen and this REALLY WHAT IT IS?!” -and then it’s super exciting. But again, you have to be someone like me who hasn’t figured out (and hasn’t tried to figure out) the plot ahead of time.
CHARACTERS: If there’s a book about complex characters, this is it. Well, one of them is complex. And unreliable- which I didn’t realize until the very end. That was a really neat twist that it added (since I didn’t know ahead of time, though I really should have suspected). The journal entries and the glimpses of Cellie were what I was really interested in- I didn’t like Alice, I was unnerved by Jason, and Chase didn’t strike me as well as a better bad boy would have. But I give them some slack- they’re all crazy. But Cellie- that was the character shrouded in mystery, so demented and twisted that you couldn’t help but want to know what she was all about, as well as what she was going to do once Alice.
What actually happened threw me for a loop. And maybe that means I’m not a very critical reader when it comes to mystery, or what, but I didn’t try to figure it out beforehand, I had no clue what was going on, and it was just…awesome. That’s what pushed this book up from ‘okay’ to ‘liked it’ for me. But I’m not going to say more about the characters so that I don’t give anything away- but they were crazy, so they were unpredictable, and it got pretty interesting there at the end.
OVERALL: I hate rating books like this. They have their time and place, and you have to be in a specific mood to read a book like this. I don’t know if I was in the right mood, so for me, it was somewhere around 3 stars, maybe a little higher. It would have been lower, but I really enjoyed the twist and the resolution- since I didn’t expect it. Well done to Emiko Jean for a first novel that I imagine was rather difficult to write.
WHAT TO WATCH
As far as romance goes, there are some innuendos and also one implied sex scene near the end, but nothing graphic. There are also some kiss scenes, although those are not graphic either. Violence plays a role in this book- there are two murders by arson, a suicide described secondhand, beating, and lots of crazy screaming and fighting nurses and doctors, as well as an abusive foster parent. There is also some language in varying degrees, name-calling and such. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger or sensitive readers- but that could have been anticipated based on the fact that most of the book takes place in an insane asylum with three orphaned pyromaniacs. So there you have it- read at your own risk, and beware the sudden twist!