Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 320 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have been wanting to read this book for a while. When I saw it at the library I decided to pick it up, I figured it would be perfect for the Halloween season. It ended up being a stark, deliberate, but strangely engaging read.
Hannah’s best friend Lillian died from an eating disorder and now Lillian is haunting Hannah. When some preteen girls are found murdered in uncomfortably ritualistic ways, it is decided that a serial killer is on the loose. Liliian wants Hannah to figure out who is killing the girls and won’t leave Hannah alone until she does.
This is a creepy tale set during an extremely hot summer in a small southern town. There is mystery here, some horror/thriller aspects, as well as some romance. The story also deals with eating disorders (Hannah’s friend Lillian died of an eating disorder).
This book was written in a stark writing style and was a bit slow moving. The mystery is slowly unraveled through hot summer days and rumors of a new Avian flu plaguing the area. Hannah is a good girl and getting involved is not something she would normally do, but this is turning out to be a not normal summer for Hannah.
Hannah is an interesting character. She is always happy on the outside, but on the inside she is still hurting from the death of her friend. She is trying to figure how to be herself and not who everyone else wants her to be. When she bumps into Finny things start to change for her.
Hannah likes Finny, he is nice to her and strangely helpful. However Hannah is not supposed to like Finny, he is the local bad boy and always in trouble for one thing or another. As Hannah starts to let herself like Finny, she realizes how much she is pretending in other parts of her life. On a side note Hannah works at a traditional photography shop and it was kind of neat to read about film processing and all of those kind of things.
This story is also about Lillian who died from anorexia. Lillian hasn’t accepted her death and is still trying run Hannah’s life from beyond the grave…Lillian was one of those overpowering friends who had Hannah in her shadow. Through their discussions Lillian’s ghost is also forced to face some hard truths about what her disease did to her and to the people she loved. Although eating disorders aren’t the focus of the story, this book does a very good job of showing the wrekage an eating disorder can leave in its wake.
The first half of the book was a bit slow, but as it continued I really started to enjoy the story. The mystery is very engaging and takes lots of unexpected twists and turns. It is creepy but never mind-numbingly scary (which is good cause I don’t do super scary all that well). It also never gets super goery or anything. In a way it was kind of a “safe” serial killer story…never uncomfortably scary or gorey.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It’s a good blend of thiller, mystery, coming of age, and teenage drama. There is some romance in here and some about eating disorders as well. All the characters are very complex and interesting. The mystery takes some unexpected twists and is well done. I would recommend to mystery/paranormal young adult fans.