I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Published by Macmillan, Sourcebooks on January 2nd 2018
Format: eARC (300 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.
In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.
The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she's next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she's never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.
There's something he isn't telling her. But there's something she's not telling him, either.
Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.
I was looking forward to this book but I’m always nervous about mystery/thrillers. I’ve said in the past how I’m not really great at figuring them out, so if I DO happen to determine whodunnit too early… the book gets a little ruined for me. Frankly it’s because I don’t read a lot of murder mysteries; I tend to think all of the ones I read are SO good because they always manage to blow my mind. I wish I could say that was the case here.
So aside from that element, which I’ll get to after, I didn’t love a lot of the OTHER parts of this book either. The main character, Penelope, is characterized as this perfectionist with parents who push her into doing everything. She has siblings who suffered the same fate but they’re all apparently well-adjusted kids still. I thought this sounded like a recipe for disaster, but instead it was completely glossed over and barely discussed. It’s the kind of thing that could lead to some major character flaws or a showdown later in the book. Unfortunately, Penelope just completely fell flat for me. Her internal monologue and constant need to start fights with Cass was increasingly annoying with every fight she instigated. I totally get being cautious because you barely know the dude and there’s a murderer out there… but this was so excessive and REPETITIVE. She accused him of the same things and they had the same conversations all the time, as if she never asked the first or second times. It was frustrating as a reader to read this over and over again with the same results. It’s clear that the romance is coming between Pen and Cass, but she ruined every conversation they had that could build chemistry by accusing him of things! There was also one scene involving a car chase that I HATED and immediately stopped shipping the two of them together. What was that all about?! Ugh.
Despite not loving the main character, I couldn’t put this down. I started it early Sunday afternoon, watched some football, and then finished it that night. I was determined to see whodunnit. Unfortunately one of my early theories ended up being correct. I’m not sure how obvious it was or even why I thought of the person, so don’t let this deter you maybe, but man… I was hoping for a shock. The reasons were somewhat there but could have been stronger or better developed. Overall, I wish the same thing for the whole book. Penelope’s family life and personality were weakly developed, with no real reason for them being included by the end of it, and there were countless other plot points that were just kind of THERE for no reason.
As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Published by Sourcebooks on January 2nd 2018
Also by this author: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
Format: eARC (432 pages) • Source: Publisher
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What if you could ask for anything- and get it?
In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.
I was in the right mood to read Sedoti’s debut, THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT, so I didn’t mind how weird it was. I was able to check out the countless other reviews as they came in about just how bizarre the story was. I felt completely ready for it and honestly it made all the difference. I ended up enjoying the book quite a bit, comparatively. I was hoping that the same prep-work would get me going for AS YOU WISH.
The concept here is amazing – a small town has a secret cave where each resident (that was born there) is able to make a wish on their 18th birthday. The wish always comes true. Most people wish for money (even though it’s only available through the town’s bank), beauty, success in their particular town, etc. There are lots of limitations but everyone seems to make do. Eldon can’t decide what to wish for – his mom is pushing for a few things and he knows he could do what she wants, but he’s not sure. He begins a little project where he collects information about other people’s wish stories – their inspiration and how they’ve been living since it was granted.
Eldon was a total dickhead. He was cocky and insufferable most of the time. Oh, woe is you that a bunch of guys wished to be more attractive and better football players, so now you’re not a god at your school. He was very entitled and irritating. I would have loved ANY other main character or personality to lead this story, because the concept was unbelievably cool. Sedoti has a knack for writing very weird and/or unlikable characters in weird and/or unlikable books… but I have to say, I’ll probably keep reading them.
As the book headed toward the conclusion, I was really nervous that we wouldn’t get to know what he wished for. It would make a lot of sense for there to be allllll that drama just to have it end with the cut-off sentence “I wish…” If you’re not planning on reading this book and are curious, View Spoiler »he gets his wish revoked for trying to break into the cave, then ends up sneaking in later to make a wish. He wishes for the town/cave to stop granting wishes. « Hide Spoiler I didn’t love the ending but I don’t think there was really any possible ending I would have enjoyed.
The school, the town, the world is full of wishes. Why don’t people stop wishing and start doing? Why is everyone so willing to wish away their lives? I want to scream at them to stop. There’s more to life than wishes. Wishing never gets you anywhere.
Except, of course, in Madison, it does.
If you’re lucky, that is.
Wishing either gets you everything or nothing. And it’s a gamble everyone is willing to take.