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.


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!





“You’re so scared that you’re going to be caged in forever you can’t see the way out.”

Official Summary:

     If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

My Thoughts:

This book left me kind of conflicted. I enjoy the way Katie McGarry writes- the alternating perspectives, the intertwining stories through all four of her novels, etc- but this one left me feeling unsatisfied. I didn’t like Beth’s character in Pushing the Limits, the first novel in the series. I thought she was rude and ungrateful (and she was) and I didn’t feel any sympathy for her situation after I found out how bad it was because of her attitude in the first book. Although it was really bad, the way Beth reacted to every single thing that happened really got on my nerves- there’s closed off, and then there’s just absolutely ridiculous. Ryan is more understanding and sweet than any guy could ever be, and he just seemed unrealistic to me.

I got a little lost in this book, and not in the wonderful way that takes you out of the real world. I was lost in the plot. So much was happening in such short periods of time that I really felt overwhelmed in some places. There were a lot of new characters introduced all at once, so close together that it took me forever to figure out who was who and what their relationship was with the two principal characters, Beth and Ryan. I still haven’t figured out a lot of it, and I finished the book. I’m really hoping Crash Into You, book three, lives up to my expectations- expectations brought to life by the fourth book in the series, which, so far, is my absolute favorite.

I guess overall this book was pretty good, but the overwhelming number of plots, the impressions I had already formed from the first book, and the way some of the characters reacted to certain events really cooled my excitement for this one. I’m still eager to read McGarry’s upcoming novel, Nowhere But Here, and I think this may have just been the book every author writes once- the one that doesn’t live up to the rest.

What to Watch:

Answer: Everything.The language was abominable, f-bombs dropped at least once every page, it seemed. There was sex referenced and then actually done, homosexuality, violence, domestic abuse, drugs, underage drinking, bam bam bam- filling the book with unsavory sections. This was definitely not a good pick for a sensitive reader- or one who’d like to keep their heads clean. While the writing was good, I would not recommend it to a friend simply based on the content. I’m not going to go into details beyond this simply because there was so much, and going over it all would take pages and pages- it would almost be re-writing the book in this blog post. I did like the writing, but based on the content, I can’t recommend it. And I didn’t love it, anyway.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!