Makani Young used to live in Hawaii with her parents, but then something happened that she doesn't even like to think about, and everyone she knew turned against her. Her parents sent her to live with her grandmother in Osborne, a tiny town in Nebraska, and it feels like exile. She now has a couple friends and a crush she can't stop thinking about. It's not the life she used to have back in Hawaii, but it could be worse.
Then a girl from school winds up dead and horribly mutilated. As the body count rises and the police try to find and stop the killer, Makani knows it's only a matter of time before her own secrets are revealed.
I decided to read this because the cover caught my eye and I was in the mood for a YA slasher. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as gripping as I'd hoped it would be, and I kept getting distracted by other reads. So much time was spent on Makani's crush on Ollie and their developing relationship, and I just wasn't interested in the two of them as a couple.
The murder scenes were fairly spooky. They all started with the soon-to-be victim noticing that random objects were out of place, which tied in nicely with the way Makani kept noticing things that were out of place in her grandmother's home (was the killer in Makani's house? would she notice in time? why was the killer waiting to go after her?). The body count was surprisingly high, considering that the characters learned the killer's identity a little over halfway through the book. Knowing who the person was didn't seem to help much when it came to catching them, though, which I thought was a little difficult to believe. And yes, the mutilations got pretty gruesome. The first murder didn't really prepare me for a couple of the later ones, although the gamer one was, in some ways, the most disturbing of the bunch despite being one of the least gory.
With as many times as Makani's secret was hinted at, I thought it was going to be very different than it actually was. It made for horrible reading, but not for the reason Makani thought, at least not for me. She blamed herself for everything that happened, but I thought that the adults who'd known what was going to happen and played along were at least as responsible, if not more so.
The last 50 or so pages were frustrating. The people in this town were idiots - the killer was still on the loose, people were still dying, and these morons set up a "haunted" maze complete with at least one person dressed up as the killer who was terrorizing their town. I would have been in full support of the parents of the victims if they'd run through the maze screaming in rage. And the killer's motive was just stupid. It felt like Perkins really wanted to write something in which teens from a wide variety of cliques were killed but couldn't figure out a good way to tie all together.
The ending was abrupt and left me feeling unsatisfied. Prominent characters had bad stuff happen to them, and multiple people were seriously injured or killed, but there was no time set aside to process everything that happened. The book just stopped.
This had some nicely creepy and suspenseful moments, but all in all I'm glad it was a library checkout rather than a purchase.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)