Pub Date: September 18, 2013
Author's: Website GoodReads Twitter
ARC Received from F+W/Adams Media in exchange for an honest review
Dannie says: Good stuff if you love a tortoise, rather than a hare.
When Elle's father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don't go away, and, soon, despite her father's caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she's losing her mind. She knows she's being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there's Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn't recognize her - until the day he divulges just how much danger she's in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad's real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who's following her now.
I try not to start reviews with disclaimers but I feel like this deserves one. I read this book on a particularly difficult week. I was emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually not myself during this read.
That said, books are supposed to be an escape from feelings like that, right? They're supposed to take you to a life different from your own and help you see things differently. Or at least, that's a major goal with my own writing.
DECEIVED fell a little short of that mark for me. I had a hard time buying in emotionally and found myself being extra resistant to suspending my disbelief.
Like I said, part of that is probably me and the place I've found myself during this read. But part of it isn't.
WHAT I LIKED
The minor characters but I think it's a mistake to have your MC feel like the sidekick (Pixie comes off more likable and interesting at times, and Brian was a much more well-rounded character.) Once Pixie stepped out of the limelight and the MC became a more central, active character in what was happening, I was hooked into her story and invested in her character. Had I not been reading for a review, I'm unsure if I would have stuck with it through the end, though. So characters are a like, not a love for me this time.
The last 1/3 story. It became clear where we were headed and the pace picked up substantially. It almost felt like the first third of the book could have been cut out completely. So I liked the pace, but I loved the last third of the book.
WHAT I LOVED
This line: "No more ignoring my instincts."
Gah, I think this is such an important theme for teenagers. As a counselor, I talk to my students regularly about what their gut tells them to do and trusting that over their friends. I think this is such a crucial lesson, and I loved the way this theme was highlighted in DECEIVED. I said "YES!" when I was reading. (PS: Sorry about the sleep disruption on that one, hubs.)
Nicholas--though I had a lot of trouble suspending disbelief about his background at first, the richness and depth of his character also made him the most tangible for me. I was very invested in reading what happened to him and I want his family to adopt me, too! (Although for the record my family is pretty great.)
WHAT I WANTED MORE OF
Distinction between Davis and Brian--for me their voices sounded similar, their names were both pretty vanilla, and for me their characterization up until we see one character's true colors (trying not to give spoilers here) felt that way, too. I wasn't particularly excited about the MC choosing either of them until one of them essentially dropped out if the plot. It made me feel like he was an afterthought added in during revision for the sake of including a love triangle.
More believable insomnia. So, I've been both a teenager and an adult with insomnia. My coworkers would argue that I'm also a caffeine junkie. I didn't buy that the MC experienced either of these things. Beyond lacking the lack of focus and irritability that comes with the sleep-deprived territory (which actually could have been a killer plot tool if utilized more organically), if the MC had gone this many nights in a row with less than two hours of sleep, she'd straight up be dead. The human body cannot function like that and all the caffeine pills and coffee in the world would not keep her from keeling over after a few weeks of sleepless nights. The details related to insomnia niggled at me throughout my read.
More believable setting--this sleepaway prep school is suspiciously lacking in adult supervision, which I realize works for the plot, but does not work for authenticity. The concept of sixteen year olds living in independent apartments complete with stoves was a distraction from the plot for me. They have to wear uniforms but can smoke wherever they please? I didn't buy it.
Short story long, DECEIVED was slow out the gate with a strong finish for me. If you don't mind a book that's more tortoise than hair, and you like a good thriller, this one is worth a shot. I'm going to give it another chance over winter break to be sure.
Have you read DECEIVED yet? What did you think?