From reading only 10-20 pages of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, I really like the pace its going at and it keeps wanting to make read more. It’s not going too slow but it’s not going too fast at the same time it goes at an even pace without being too detailed or too vague. I also like how you know the conflict cause it makes people want to read to the conflict then the climax and read the resolution to know how people would solve the conflict.
You are browsing archives for
Tag: YA Mystery
Teen SRC 2021 – The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
“The other, louder part of her mind told her that something was wrong, wrong, wrong.”
The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson is the fourth instalment in the Truly Devious series, although you could 100% read it as a standalone.
After solving the Ellingham cold case, Stephanie “Stevie” Bell finds herself bored… that is, until she receives a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, once known as Camp Wonder Falls, in Barlow Corners. He wants Stevie to help him out with a podcast on another unsolved case, the Box in the Woods murders.
In 1978, 4 camp counsellors went into the woods, and none came back out. They were stabbed brutally, and 3 of the 4 victims showed signs of head injury. These teens were Todd, the cocky Mayor’s son, Diane, Todd’s girlfriend and mediocre student, Eric, the camp weed dealer, and Sabrina… the local high school’s star student. I’ll let you decide who stands out.
It will surprise no one that I literally could not put this book down. I promise I tried, but I failed. I finished it at 11:30pm last night, which did nothing for my fear of the dark, but I genuinely could not stop turning the pages. Maureen Johnson has once again created a mystery that hooks the reader from the first page to the last.
There are lots of things to love about this book. It’s fast-paced, it creates amazing atmosphere, and Stevie talks through her thoughts very clearly, making it easy for the reader to immerse themselves. When she’s on the edge of a breakthrough, the anticipation is intense because the story is so absorbing. There are also several flashback scenes which are super helpful in keeping the reader engaged, because they feel like extra hints that not even Stevie has.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like every single aspect of the story, which is to be expected. Like I mentioned before in my review of Truly Devious, I don’t find Stevie a very likable character. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a great fit for narrating murder mysteries; she’s calculated, cold, and not very emotive. But she’s definitely not someone I’d like to be friends with, which detracted from my appreciation of the novel.
Another thing is the complicated romance between Stevie and David; it just didn’t belong in the book at all! It served no purpose, and it was so weird seeing Stevie suddenly feel things whenever he came around. So I apologize, but in the case of this novel in particular, I am back to being a romance hater.
Other than that, I have nothing else to critique, the beginning was a bit slow, but the other parts of the book made up for it! The mystery was well crafted as always, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.
I would rate The Box in the Woods an 8.5/10, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of murder mysteries!
Teen SRC 2021 – The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
If you asked me to compare the Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to any other book series/movie, I would readily say that it resembles The Princess Diaries. It’s a classic rags-to-riches story with a very principled, intelligent, and stubborn heroine… but then sprinkle in some riddles, a dash of mystery, and a boring love triangle to the mix. I have to say, I enjoyed the first half of the Inheritance Games tremendously. The entire premise of inheriting billions of dollars and a gigantic mansion with four handsome boys living in it would be appealing to anyone, and I got immersed in all the details of Avery’s new life–like having your own security detail and personal lawyer? Sign me up! It was also fascinating to try and figure out WHY Tobias Hawthorne, who Avery had never even met (to her knowledge) would leave her his entire empire.
If you noticed I only mentioned the first half of the book, then you would be absolutely correct. I don’t know what it was exactly, but the book didn’t live up to its own potential in the second half. The mystery became especially lacklustre, in my opinion, because most of it happened BEFORE Avery even got involved. I believe the book started its downward track when Emily was first mentioned. I could have done without the “dead ex” trope but *sigh* that was not to be. The “bombshell” at the end was also very predictable for me, somehow–I was not at all surprised. Also. The love triangle? Childish. I disliked both potential love interests but the one I disliked more is who we got saddled with throughout the book. Not to mention that most characters barely had a personality. I liked Oren, Alisa, Libby (secondary characters) and maybe Xander… but that’s pretty much it. For me, everyone else was indistinguishable (i.e. the same as one another).
To wrap up my review, I liked this book a lot. I’d even give it a 9/10 just because of how fun and exciting it was. (I finished in one day, by the way. I feel like I should have mentioned that earlier.) Still, it could have been better without the cliched romance and with a bigger mystery. I will be picking up the next book in the series but not with bated breath.
P.S. I think the problem arose because two VERY important characters (Emily and Tobias Hawthorne) were both dead from the start. They couldn’t do much except be mentioned and it made everything repetitive. The only mystery that didn’t involve either of them was great, though, but I can’t say what that was because of spoilers 🙂
Teen SRC 2021 – The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
“As awful as it sounds, money is power, and power is magnetic.” But what if that isn’t all there is to it? In The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes– the protagonist, Avery Grambs, is inherited billions of dollars all at once. Suddenly, she’s no longer the girl going to a public high school and eating out of cafeteria lunch trays. Her life is a fantasy…until problems arise. The question isn’t how Avery will spend the money. It isn’t if her sister, Lynn, will be okay with everything. The real question is, who in the world gave Avery the money, and why?
When Avery meets Tobias Hawthorne, the billionaire genius, her life is flipped. Scratch that. More like tumbled, rolled, and cartwheeled itself into the most luxurious lifestyle she could have ever asked for. But then, -oh, and here comes the “but then”– Avery meets the Hawthorne family. Four grandsons, each and every one of them raised to be well-mannered, respectable young men. At first glance, they welcome Avery and her sister into Hawthorne House and give warm welcomes. As time passes, though, Avery starts sensing the hostility beneath their smiles and twinkling eyes. Hawthorne House, a place of secrets, magic, and puzzles, conceals a game so complex, one could hardly call it “a game.”
I think this book had such an amazing plot line, and the pacing was perfect. It’s a mystery book, so the author doesn’t give away too much, but just the right amount readers need to feel engaged to the book. I’ve realized this is something most mystery book authors can do though, so that wasn’t the most surprising part for me. What really got me with The Inheritance Games are the characters. Oh. My. God. The characters. I still can’t believe how well-rounded they are, each with their own realistic characteristics and personalities. They felt relatable and so real, too. I feel like most mystery books I’ve read focus on the plot, and the character is, more often than not, a detective who literally does not have their own life beyond the mystery. Jennifer Lynn Barnes does the most awesome job at making the characters people who can actually exist in real life.
I have zero complaints for this book. It was breath-catching, beautiful, and just everything a mystery book for teens should be. Also, can we take second to talk about THAT COVER. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, yeah we get that, but this one is absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to read the sequel, I totally recommend this book; 10/10.
Teen SRC 2021 – Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers
I was a bit wary when I first picked up Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers because the synopsis didn’t attract me greatly. Still, the cover was too gorgeous for me to put down, and it was marketed as a teen mystery/thriller which I usually love. I do wish that the book would have been clearer from the get-go that it would include some paranormal elements… I don’t enjoy horror/sci-fi books as much as I do mysteries and it detracted from my experience of reading this.
Anyway, one thing I completely loved in this book, right from the start, was the writing style. This is the first book I’ve read from Rory Power but she seems to me the kind of writer that has a very powerful, lyrical style that lends depth and beauty to her books. This translates very well into the relationships between characters. The neglectful and sometimes abusive relationship between Margot and her mother, for example, I found well-written and emotional to read.
That’s as far as my compliments go for this book, unfortunately. I did not like the individual characters. I found Margot, our protagonist, boring and with little personality of her own. Other characters like Gram and Tess are barely developed and mostly confusing. The plot doesn’t get much better either, with a slow start and rushed ending. There were a couple twists that shocked me, and some plot lines that I haven’t read in any other YA mystery, though. The action also gets much tighter (see: gory) near the end, which surprised me since the first two thirds of the book was mild. Still, the plot, characters, and mystery aspect was disappointing to me.
I give Burn Our Bodies Down 7/10. If I’d known to expect a horror/paranormal aspect to the book, maybe my rating would be higher. If not for the beautiful writing and complex mother-daughter relationship this book portrays, my rating would be lower. I recommend this to anyone who wants a creepy and weird thriller with well-written scenes but flat characters and a just-tolerable mystery.