I’ll be the first to admit that I have never been a huge fan of mystery novels in a YA setting. I adore YA (we all know this) but I generally leave my twists and turns to authors like Andrew E Kaufman or (more recently) Jordan Dane. At the risk of sounding like a book racist (I assure you I’m not, just incredibly picky) I have (until this novel) garnered a firm belief that this is one genre where the adults clearly take the lead. I’m not saying that a few novels haven’t held my interest (for example: The Butterfly Clues) but when it comes down to brass tacks and silver charms the only YA mysteries I like are the ones solved by the incredibly precocious Veronica Mars.
My reasoning is simple: to pull off a solid mystery the plot must be incredibly complex.
I’m not saying YA is complex free, I’m simply saying that this particular book trait is usually reserved for the sub-genres of high-fantasy or dystopian. The mysteries? They usually include one possibility and the least amount of characters as possible. And while I WILL concede that maybe I’ve put blinders on to a lottery of books that might just hold more worth than I am currently giving them, I demand one very simple stipulation before I offer up my pathetic excuse of a concession speech…
They must all be as expertly plotted as Romily Bernard’s “Find Me.”
First things first…I HATED the first 5 or 6 chapters of this book. Not because of plot holes, or even the characters. What I hated was Bernard’s undue use of the word “hacking.” We get it, your protagonist is incredibly paranoid (which for the record is NOT a trait of a legitimate hacker..just throwing that out there) and likes to internally rant about the possibility that she may indeed by snatched up like a coke dealer wearing a “You found me!” sign, BUT there has to be a limit to how many times a person self berates (or projects.) Throwing out how “alone” she is in every other sentence does not justify the tsunami crash of roughly 70 “She knows I’m hacking.”-s.
But, I’m a good little blogger, so I deciding to push through the pain of overused verbiage (as opposed to chunking the book across the room) and quickly came to realize something; the more I read (aka the deeper the plot got) the less I noticed my earlier annoyance. (Thank the heavens.)
“Why” you ask?
Because the story body-slammed it. (I’m talking John Cena to the mat, no mercy man roar. Grrr!)
Right before my eyes, this otherwise slow starting look at deception, manipulation and determination blossomed into and intricate web of sordid pasts, shady parents and unlikely connections. I was more than just interested in Wick and her quest to set things right, I was invested in her life. The same can be said for the other characters found inside the book. Though Griff (the love interest) stole the scene (rightfully so) on several occasions (can you say “best first kiss tension since Unravel Me?”) the devoted petulance of Wick’s little sister, the twisted mindset of her drug dealer father, even the questionable motives of the town cop, kept me flipping pages like I was solely responsible for catching the bad guy.
Characters aside, the plot itself had its own set of teeth, clamping onto leads (intended to confuse the reader) while letting others slide (misdirection?) Bernard illustrated that HER way of questioning the evidence (and then later either justifying or extinguishing it) is just as good as the big boys (aka adult fiction.)
But that’s not the important question is it (being worthy or not) the big question is… Did I peg the big bad before the reveal.
The answer? Yes, but only about 5 pages prior. (Which earns Bernard a heaping helping of awesome-sauce.)
My final thought: If you can push past the beginning the payoff is worth the peril. Bernard managed to ignite a new fire in the land of YA Mystery, and I’m very happy to carry the torch. (At least for a little while.)
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” – Oscar Wilde