*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher from BEA 2016.*
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
I brought ARCs to my classroom after we attended Book Expo last year. I have an extensive classroom library, but rarely do students ever take up my offer to borrow books to read independently. I pitched having these ARCs in the class as a really cool insider opportunity to read books before many other people were able to and even would tell students about how they would get in trouble if they borrowed one and then sold it (which most students laughed at, but I think did emphasize the specialness about them I was trying to create). Most of the students who borrowed books were pretty strong readers. However, I had one student who I would have pegged as a reluctant reader. He looked through the books after class one day and grabbed this book. He told me he was interested in serial killers and asked if he could borrow it. Of course I let him, and several months later he returned saying he really liked it.
This is one of the main reasons I decided to pick the book up myself (I had also heard some decent buzz about it as well since it came out) and some of the things that delighted me about the book, I must be honest, impacted me more through the lens of thinking about my students reading the book. I feel I would be remiss if I did not start with my favorite element of the book, which is how Audrey Rose, the main character, is developed. She starts off seeming to be another run-of-the-mill example of a female character interested in non-feminine topics. What I think is done so well though is that her disgust is not directed at these feminine pursuits (and indeed even shows some interest and admiration towards some elements of it), but rather the way society pigeonholes girls and women into them. I thought this was a nice balance and one that usually tips one way or the other far too often. I must note here that I think this being such a large part of the story is something that made me smile a lot thinking about my student reading it.
The one criticism I have with the book is Audrey Rose’s relationship with Thomas Cresswell. I do not want to overstate this point, since I think both characters were well written and interesting, but I do think that some of their exchanges were the few moments I found myself wanting to skim rather than poring over the words in front of me.
Finally, I have a huge issue with television, movies, books, or any other form of media that has a mystery that would be impossible to solve until it is resolved within the story. I think that what this book does, which many great mysteries do, is that looking back on the story you can pick out moments that could have allowed you to guess at the big reveal, but along the way (unless you are really taking the time to ponder it) you might miss. I will admit that I figured it out only a few pages before the reveal and found that to be thoroughly satisfying. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and tore through it on my winter break. I definitely think it is worth checking out.