Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What we're reading: Thriller

A girl is murdered in the woods by Nicolette Holland's house, and now Nicolette is on the run. It's not clear exactly why--did she witness the murder? commit the murder? find the body? but she takes off out the window of her room like a scared cat, manages to hitch a ride out of town, and does everything she can to stay under the radar, because "someone" is chasing her.

Jack Manx is the good egg in a bad family--his father was a hitman, and his brother is in prison for armed assault. Jack, a straight A student, is a few weeks away from graduation when his brother contacts him from the prison to tell him that unless he tracks down Nicolette Holland and gets rid of her, Jack and everyone he loves will be in danger. So Jack reluctantly goes hunting for Nicolette, but each of them discovers that the lies they have been told will mess with their lives in ways they never imagined.

How to Disappear is told from two first-person points of view, by Jack and Nicolette, and is for fairly mature high school readers. I picked up this book because I have heard good things about Ann Redisch Stampler's writing from other people and wanted to try one for myself. The book sounded like an exciting, fast-paced mystery that I would enjoy.

Well...I'm giving this book a rating of 3, with some explanation. It started out as a 2, and by the end it was a 4, but the fact that I had to get through about a third of a 2 book before it crept up to 3 and finally turned into 4...hmmm.

The beginning was disjointed, confusing, and more drawn out than it needed to be. In fact, about a third of the way through, I honestly considered not finishing the book, because I was frustrated and kind of bored. But the minute the two protagonists quit telling their individual stories and came together, things picked up.

I have to confess that, for a chapter or two further, I was still mightily irritated by the book, because their instant chemistry--the "insta-love"--made me mad. He gets sent to kill her and falls for her instead?
Right. But then their relationship sucked me in, and when they finally straighten out what's going on, who's guilty of what, and what needs to happen, suddenly the pace picked up, the story got exciting and engaging, and I read through to the end of a very different book than the one I thought I had started.

People who enjoyed I Am the Weapon, by Allen Zadoff, or The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, might enjoy this book--if they can get past the first third of it without quitting!

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