Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: 5 stars
“I’m going to kill a man. I’m going to steal the light from his eyes. I want to watch it go out. You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer.”
I was holding it together for most of the story, but the ending of this book completely wrecked me. I cried like a baby. Sadie, our main character, is out for revenge. She thinks she knows who murdered her sister- the sister that she took care of for years, and played the role of mother to- and she’s going to find him and make him pay. But this story isn’t like most other stories of revenge; it doesn’t gloss over the hurt and the pain and it doesn’t base its characters motives on anger and rage. Sadie is broken. Sadie is tired, so tired. And you take this journey with her, this horrible journey, where all she wants to do is try and save other little girls from suffering the way her sister had to.
This book felt so real. It was so raw, and the content was so dark and depressing, but the setting and the tone and the descriptions had me completely immersed in the story. There were lots of moving parts and characters that came in and out, and I wanted to know what happened to each and every one of them. Some of these characters were only in each other’s lives for days at a time, but sometimes that’s all it takes to change someone’s life forever.
“P-please.” It makes my stomach ache, how, at a time like this, I can’t make that word come perfectly out of my mouth enough to convince him. I can’t describe how bad it feels, this inability to communicate the way I want, when I need to. My eyes burn, and tears slip down my cheeks and I can’t even imagine how pathetic I look. Girl with a busted face, torn-up arm, begging for the opportunity to save other girls. Why do I have to beg for that?”
An event that started in Sadie’s narrative and left open-ended or on a cliffhanger was often revised by West in the ‘podcast’ chapters, and we’re frequently given some sort of resolution from the future. So we were given glimpses into the story from Sadie in the past, and then some follow up towards the later parts of the ‘podcast’ and the way these different timelines ran parallel and separate from each other worked really well. The timeline jumped around considerably, but it wasn’t confusing at all, and I think it actually added to the story.
Some things are told to you multiple times, and it can get a little taxing with how repetitive it can be, but you’re also given small differences and details with each take. Because you’re hearing about things from more than one person’s viewpoint or perspective, it’s up to you to decide what’s true and whose version is closer to the reality.
I think I lost track of the times that tears came to my eyes and of the times that I cried while I was reading. This book crushed me, and it showcased such a raw humanity that some people have. How different people’s lives can be and for how some people it’s a daily struggle to get by; especially for small children who are forced to grow up and face way too much before they’re ready.
“I wish his darkness lived outside of him,
because you have to know it’s there to see it.
Like all real monsters, he hides in plain sight.”
On a lighter note, I enjoyed that there was a companion podcast to this story, and encourage you to check it out before you start the book! The accompanying ‘podcast’ is basically just a reading of the first handful of ‘podcast’ chapters (with little extras and ads peppered in), but I was hooked on the story before the audio even ended. I really enjoyed the Serial podcast and so a mash-up of something like that and a YA thriller book is right down my alley. The best part is that since this is a fictional book, we’re given Sadie’s narrative view and then separately given an outsiders interpretation of things. The format worked really well and kept the story engaging. Hearing a couple chapters read aloud also put a voice in your head for reading the rest of the story on paper, and set the tone for the book from the beginning. To sum it up, read this book! But also be prepared to cry, and be prepared for some VERY heavy topics. There is nothing light hearted about this story, but it’s a story that’s going to stick with me for a long, long time.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“That’s the first time anyone ever said that to me.”
“I’m sorry about that too.”