***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
I am a major Kelley Armstrong fangirl so I knew I would love this book but I still ended up being surprised by it. The Masked Truth is so different from Kelley Armstrong's YA novels in that it’s more mature and also happens to be a thriller (her YA books so far have been Urban Fantasy/Fantasy.)
One thing Kelley Armstrong has been good about is incorporating diversity in her novels and she does it again with a Hispanic female lead and also by discussing mental illnesses in a way that is heartbreaking but REALLY realistic and enlightening. I also appreciated that therapy was portrayed positively in the book (even with some of the things that happened.) The main character isn’t always on board with some of the things her therapist asks but getting help is NEVER mocked and I loved that.
Riley is suffering from PTSD after witnessing a couple she babysat for get murdered. She saved their daughter, but in her mind, because she hid under a bed, she is a coward and the fact that everyone considers her a hero makes it worse. When she and a bunch of other kids are held hostage, Riley really steps up her game to keep everyone together but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flashbacks or panics. I think her entire character is so fantastically developed. It’s realistic and makes it so easy to believe in Riley.
My favorite character is obviously Max who is unlike any love interest I’ve met so far. He is schizophrenic. And it’s really his struggle that makes this book stand out to me. When we first meet him, he seems like a classic case of bad boy and I was like *shrug* but the more I read and the more Kelley developed him, the more I fell in love.
Through Max, Kelley really looks at the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and specifically schizophrenia. Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about the illness but The Masked Truth really put into perspective the kind of prejudice people have and how hard it can be to deal with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia. In my limited knowledge of the illness, I’d say that Kelley did a fantastic job with dealing with the illness and never undermined its seriousness in any way.
As one can imagine, the romance between Riley and Max would be all kinds of interesting and it was. Given the situation they are in, being held hostage and all, the time frame within which their romance develops might make some readers see it as instalove but I was okay with it because Kelley really makes me root for these two. Their romance is built on understanding and team work rather than attraction (although there is that too) and I really liked that.
The thriller aspects, unsurprisingly, were amazing too. This book does get twisty but in a way that works and I enjoyed it. Of course, that could just be my bias since I adore Kelley Armstrong but I also think she just did a great job with the twists. She never throws unnecessary red herrings and nothing is predictable. Her twists also aren’t bizarre or unbelievable. They just make sense within the context of the story. It’s like watching pieces of a puzzle click rather than experiencing sheer surprise or shock.
The book does start off slow, and it wasn’t until the second half that I was really sucked in but Kelley has a way of writing stories that work for me and many other readers. I loved this book and hope that Kelley will write many more like it.
Note that I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review