PSA: I’ve decided in an effort to catch up on my outrageously large to be reviewed list that I’m going to do double, themed reviews. This way, reviews are geared towards a specific YA/NA genre and if you liked one of those reviewed, you might be interested in the other one listed.
Below are two mystery thrillers. The first is a murder mystery, the second is a twisted dystopian mystery meets survival tale.
There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar and Awake.
When Mackenzie treks to a secluded cabin in the woods with six friends, she expects a fun weekend of partying, drinking, and hookups. But when they wake to find two of their own dead and covered in blood, it’s clear there’s a killer among them.
As the police try to unravel the case, Mackenzie launches her own investigation. Before long secrets start to emerge, revealing a sinister web of sins among the original seven friends. The killer is still free. Every one of them is a suspect. And Mackenzie starts to realize that no one is innocent…
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & SOURCEBOOKS Fire
I just couldn’t get into this story. I tried several times. I read to about 20%, stepped away, and then came back and read 5-10% more and I still struggled.
Before writing a review, I always drink my coffee and think for a while about why I rated the book the way I did. Though these reviews might seem a little short, it actually takes a lot of time to wade through my thoughts and put it all on virtual paper. That being said, The Cabin, unlike Awake, did not hold my attention and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t finish.
The story is your typical horror film trope; a bunch of teens hanging out, hooking up, drinking at a remote location in the middle of the night. Things start to get cloudy during their drunken bingefest and they wake up to a gruesome murder.
The doors were locked. One of them in the killer. How can one of your best friends be a psycho without you knowing? Who did it? Why can they trust? Which of the group is guilty? This is the basic premise.
In the sections I read, it was a fairly predictable bout of drinking, drama, and angst between friends and a hated boyfriend. The characters were, for the most part, outlined with light shading but not filled out in full color. For the life of me, I could not get invested in ANY of the characters, even MacKenzie. I just didn’t like her. Sure, she’s the most developed out of all of them, but her mindless certainty of some factors, the wishy-washy way she reacts to certain things, her need to take control…it turned me off. She claims she’s this person, all high and mighty about it, and every other page she’s like I’d never do this, I’ve never done this, and the next second she’s doing the thing she claimed to never do. Frustrating.
While the mystery does try to persuade you to speed through the story, despite the initial murder, the plot is pretty slow and it drags. I kept waiting for something, anything, and it kept slowly moving forward. While this is necessary (to an extent) to insert clues that direct you towards conclusions and help you uncover the killer, I wanted to skim and skip pages.
A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer?
Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.
But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.
Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Crown Publishing
Let me preface this review by saying that this book just wasn’t for me, but I do believe that many people would like it.
The story centers around Elka, a young girl who has suffered incredible loss and hardship in this terrible dystopian world. Survival is only had by the most crafty and clever. Elka has to grow up fast and while she tries to be a good person, it’s not always possible in the harsh new world. Elka is a strong character. She’s fully developed, has a powerful voice, and is completely distinct. You’ll want to root for her. If you’re not into strong dialect, this may not be for you. Sometimes Elka’s unique pattern of speaking and thoughts threw me off and I got a little irritated. It’s something that you have to be in the mood for to stay invested.
Elka looks at Trapper like a father figure. He’s the only human companionship she’s had for years and while there are huge, gaping mysteries surrounding what he does on the long trips he takes, she trusts him and grows to love him. When Elka learns the truth, the disillusionment hits hard and it’s heartbreaking how fast this belief system crumbles. Elka, for the first time, truly has no one and that crippling fear oozes from the story.
There are quite a few gaps in Elka’s memories that feel like repressed memories. After so much suffering and loss, who wouldn’t have some mental protections in place? The story rotates between current time and flashbacks. Each flashback is like a discovery point bringing you closer to the truth. The order is sometimes hazy and it can get a tad bit confusing.
The one thing that does keep you going is the paralyzing uncertainty about Elka’s future and the creepy way people hunt and haunt her. You want to be sure she survives and it’s the nail-biting, adrenaline rush that propels you forward. And it would have kept me reading had the pace not been so stunted. For a good percentage of the book, the story was so slow.
If you’re looking for something a different-think stalker thriller set in a dystopian world-check this out.
If you liked any of the following, you’ll enjoy this: