We’re back to nefarious MINI REVIEWS!
Ah, now, I do realise I only did a batch last week, but I’m drowning in surprise review-copies so here we go anyway. This week I’m bunching the rather thrilly thrillers together — the ones that’ll make you shudder and consider moving to a lone island in the Maldives because people are scary.
Although (as seems to be popular with my mini-munchies) I personally wasn’t particularly terrified with any of these. But I always struggle to be impressed by thrillers. Why? I blame Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. It was THE most amazing thriller I’ve ever consumed (aka it left me traumatised for weeks) and since then nothing has quite lived up to it. I’m just apparently very hard to scare. (Unless you take away my cake.)
BUT MOVING FORWARD ANYWAY! Some of these might appeal to you, and in that case: ENJOY! And remember! Don’t talk to strangers, kids! Or better yet, don’t talk to anyone! They’re probably a psychopath!
(Thank you to Hot Keys, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Bloomsbury for these review-copies!)
WITH MALICE BY EILEEN COOK
★★✩✩✩ // published June, 2016
Wish you weren’t here . . .
When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident . . . wasn’t just an accident.
With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?
While it definitely kept me intrigued and suspicious of everyone, With Malice honestly failed me for pure slowness. Nothing much happened??? Which is weird for a thriller. And it felt like it was trying very very hard to be “the next Dangerous Girls” with the kids-overseas-for-a-holiday-and-something-goes-terribly-wrong thing but sort of bellyflopped. Or maybe I am just a moody grape. That option is viable too.
- Good writing! I wanted ANSWERS, DANGIT and it was very easy to gobble up.
- Everyone was suspicious. Always excellent for a murder-mystery-thriller-thing. I even suspected the cleaners at one point, which was ridiculous because they weren’t even there at the crime, but I like to be thorough.
- Gelato. A book with gelato is doing it right, obviously.
- It’s only half narrated by Jill. The rest is newspaper clippings, police transcripts, interviews, snippets from a guide book. Yes. A GUIDE BOOK. I don’t understand how that related at all. But all of these “extras” obviously gave us different opinions on the WHO DUNNIT, but they were also quite boring to read and just telling telling telling. I felt very unattached to the whole story.
- Oh hello amnesia trope. I only see you in every thriller ever. #cliche
- And poisonous friendships trope really frustrate me. It’s not a BAD trope, per se, it’s just one I’m thoroughly sick of. Particularly when BFF-stories (even when they are nice to each other) have little impact on me because how can girls be so backstabby and still say they’re friends??? I just??? I can’t????
- I felt like a lot of the story was IMPLIED instead of EXPLORED. Detachment = me.
- The finale felt really out of character for Jill. I suppose when you’re under pressure…YOU CAN BREAK AND DO STUPID THINGS! Sure! But it made. no. sense. and therefore I disliked the ending.
- It’s not even REALLY set in Italy. It’s mostly set in a rehab hospital. #napping
- The message I’m taking away is: IF YOU HAVE A BFF ONE OF YOU IS PROBABLY GOING TO DIE AND THE OTHER GET ACCUSED OF YOUR MURDER SO LET’S ALL BE HERMITS ON SMALL ISLANDS OFF THE COAST OF WALES AND RAISE GOATS AND EAT CHEESE AND BE ALONE.
NERVE BY JEANNE RYAN
★★✩✩✩ // published July, 2016
A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly.
When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. It tempts her with amazing prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and teams her up with her perfect boy: sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating – Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?
Ah, a delightful book featuring stupid people doing stupid things for money. See the main problem here is I am a very logical person so I didn’t at all connect with anyone in this story because I couldn’t understand how they could DO STUPID THINGS FOR MONEY. Don’t you like life???? (Note: I like life.)
- Initially it did keep me hooked. The whole premise is a bunch of people on the internet making other people do dares (the people who do the dares get money/prizes) and the whole time I was like “What whacky thing will happen next???”
- Quick ‘n’ easy read! So if you’re curious but not sure, at least it won’t take you very long to devour. It’s under 300-pages!
- The movie trailer looks good! Shh, this isn’t cheating. Also the movie trailer looks…nothing…like the book. Hmm.
- It hates on shy/quiet people. Vee is this shy/boring/responsible girl who decides those are really negative traits, ergo doing crazy dares will make her into a more interesting/better person. I HATE THIS TROPE. I think it’s harmful.
- The rest of the characters felt irritatingly cliche. Like the combination of: (A) Tommy; the boy with an unrequited crush on Vee that she entirely is oblivious about, (B) the BFF who is a star and drama queen and gets angry if Vee dares be cooler than her; and then (C) the absolutely JERK OF THE YEAR boy who Vee is in luuuuuuve with (even though he only wants to talk about her bra size) and then (D) the hot, charming and too-nice-for-this-world NERVE partner Vee teams up with to do the dares WHO SHE GETS AN INSTA CRUSH ON BUT DON’T WORRY IT’S PROBABLY TRUE LOVE.
- Most of the dares felt really dumb to me. Maaaybe that’s the point? But the Watchers have to PAY to watch people do this stuff. Would you pay to watch someone dump coffee on their head? #no
- Vee is a Chronic Whiner. And crier. I mean, forget that SHE SIGNED UP FOR THIS ON HER OWN ACCORD, but she will sob her way through at least every dare.
- Do people actually TRUST anonymous internet companies that get ahold of your personal information and start blackmailing you??
- USE YOUR GOD GIVEN BRAINS, PEOPLE.
BURNING BY DANIELLE ROLLINS
★★✩✩✩ // published July, 2016
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just three months shy of release. She’ll finally see her little brother again. And she’ll get the hell out of the pit that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility.
But then Jessica arrives … She’s young, only ten years old, and she’s brought to Brunesfield in shackles under the highest security possible. She doesn’t speak and is placed in the segregation ward. No one knows what she did to end up there. But there are plenty of rumours. Soon creepy things begin to happen to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival and it becomes clear that Jessica is more dangerous than anyone ever expected.
This book is a crimey-paranormal-horror-thriller-sci-fi….I think. A book with an identity crisis? Anyway, it’s basically about Angela (who’s in Juvie) who gets manipulated into caring for a psycho 10-year-old WHO SETS FIRE TO THINGS WITH HER MIND. Epic premise, but the extremely far fetched sci-fi conspiracy series and the slow setting did ultimately turn me off.
- Despite not being creepy enough, Jessica (the 10yo burning girl) still had some creeptastic moments! And she was cute! And psycho! SO YAY.
- There is a pretty cool friendship dynamic between Angela and her two roomies: Issie and Cara. #FRIENDSHIPWIN
- Plenty of diversity: including a variety of ages, ethnicity, and Angela has dyslexia.
- Juvie is always an interesting setting. Reminds me why I’m a super good person and always keep on the right side of the law. (Except for that library fine that one time…)
- SO SLOW. SOOOOO SLOOOOOOW. It’s a thriller, isn’t it?! But so many mundane chapters of kitchen duties where NOTHING HAPPENS and monologues from crabby guards and then Angela having no idea what’s happening for 94% of the plot = snooze.
- I’m really not into the whole “evil creepy scientist conspiracy lady”. I mean, she wasn’t even being evil for a reason.
- Angela’s backstory as SUCH a let down. She narrates in 1st person and is lumped in with the “dangerous/high security girls” and constantly says “I’M NOT TELLING YOU WHAT I DID TO END UP IN JUVIE AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.” Well obviously the truth does come out and it’s incredibly lame. She’s claiming to be a “monster” but…seriously? No. Sit down you mild cucumber.
- Let’s not even talk about the RANDOM ROMANCE WITH THE GUARD. Zero chemistry. Zero sense. They didn’t even know each other. Whyyyyyy was there romance????
- Suspend disbelief. Suspend it all. Twice. Ugh.
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN BY RANSOM RIGGS
★★✩✩✩ // originally published 2011; movie-tie-in-cover August 2016
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
I’m kiiiiind of cheating here, because I read this book back in 2014. BUT HEY! This is the new movie-edition-tie-in-cover and I think it’s downright gorgeous. Unfortunately it doesn’t make me love the actual book. I know. I’m a complete letdown to society.
- The weird vintage photos are COOL. And it’s just such an original and unique idea to tell a story with the help of creeptastic old photos.
- The setting was super vivid! Boggy moors! Wales! Rain! Please never let me go there I’d drown!
- It’s definitely peculiar. I AIN’T ARGUING WITH THE TITLE.
- It wasn’t really that creepy. I was not creeped. I demand to be creeped. Even though the photos were weird I didn’t think they were horrifying.
- The writing didn’t really strike any emotions in me. It actually felt middle-grade in style/simplicity.
- Which brings me to Jacob…he felt twelve. SORRY BUT HE DID. He was also quite boring and spoiled and he sits there whining “I have no friends” while I am like “DUDE LOOK AT YOUR ATTITUDE.” Plus most of the Peculiar children he meets are actually children. So why was he so much older?
- Just for a book that’s so famous and hyped, I was monstrously underwhelmed.
- Also — WHY IS JOHNNY DEPP NOT IN THIS MOVIE???? WHAT IS THIS????