Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: As a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. At least, that's what she's been told. She can't remember anything from that day. She's pretty sure she didn't mean to do it. She's a victim too. But her town's bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down. In Melody's eyes, Cassidy is a murderer and always will be.
When Cassidy overhears what sounded like an abduction and Melody goes missing, Cassidy knows she should go to the cops, but... She recently joked about how much she'd like to get rid of Melody. She even planned out the perfect way to do it. It's up to Cassidy to figure out what really happened, because if she comes forward without a suspect, she knows people will point fingers at her. Again. And she can't let that happen.
But the truth behind Melody's disappearance will set the whole town ablaze. (Amazon)
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Genre: Thriller / Mystery / YA
Rating: 2 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
This novel has a solid premise. It might have been meant to be full of twists and turns, a heaping amount of mounting evidence, and a few leads to whoever might have been responsible for Melody's disappearance. The reality, however, is most of a novel full of teenage angst and a lead that spends most of her time either blaming herself for this disappearance, stressing over the loss of a friend who she is so obviously actually in love with, and not a lot of sleuthing happening save for a few random bursts here and there.
Cass is not the most likable of leads. She's rather unpleasant, actually. She's selfish; she might berate herself with guilt after the fact, but she's very much okay with pushing others down a few pegs; and she impulsively jumps to conclusions that are incredibly detrimental to other people. She spends most of the novel rushing from one suspect to the other, while dragging poor Gideon around—best friend sidekick and the only good person in this story aside from poor Emily, sister to one of the wrongfully accused people—until the guy appropriately tired of her antics.
And you would think that someone who gets bullied—which only adds another ingredient to the angsty feel of this tale—would attempt to rise above doing it to others, but rather deplorably, she instead turns around and does the same thing to someone else.
After Cass has gone around to blaming Brandon, her brother Asher's friend, for Melody's fatality, she sets her eyes on Seth. Seth, the loner that everyone thinks is a stalker of girls after a rumor was started by Cassidy. So it baffles me that Cass then goes after Seth as the culprit in this story because he's creepy and a stalker and therefore, so very obviously, the “bad guy”...even though she herself was the one who started this rumor! The reasoning to this path that the novel takes and sticks to for quite a while makes no sense to me. And just before we find out who the actual criminal is, Cass, of course, goes on and hysterically accuses yet another person due to the gut instinct that has been leading her so clearly up to this point.
I wasn't expecting the big reveal, which was at least one good thing to this book, even if I found the reasoning for “bad guy” to do what he did very weak—albeit psychotic, so at least he fits the bill. But after the insufferable long time that it took for this to build, while having to read through pages upon pages of Cassidy's anxiety and teenage moping because she was losing her Giddy—and fairly so, mind you, since she has no backbone and fed into her fear rather than attempt to do the right thing—the mystery was completely lost for me in this one.
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