*Received this book off Netgalley in exchange for an honest review- but the “OMG mindblown” comments you’re about to see is all me*
Going in, I was suspicious of everybody, trying to decipher the murder mystery element and didn’t know who to trust. Which was why it was cool to have it filtered through the eyes of two of the accused, who were trying to solve the mystery of their friend’s death and simultaneously clear their own names. I didn’t know if the narrators themselves would be reliable and they certainly didn’t totally trust each other after all they’d been through.
The dual perspective worked particularly well, since both had very distinctive voices. Brynn came across as sassy; Mia was the quiet one with hidden depths. I particularly liked the running theme of Mia’s lists, which not only showed her personality but were incorporated into her character growth. For where Brynn had to learn to be less prickly, Mia had to find her voice. What was particularly interesting was that learning to speak up showed why she was afraid of words in the first place– words are barbs and she had always known they held that cruel power. It’s like she was capable of monstrous things and was holding back.
I also appreciated the characterisation through each other’s eyes. It was a great tribute to their friendship that they were able to define each other so well. The colourful descriptions were also lent to the side characters, who were well developed in their own right. Wade, the dorky investigator cousin; Abby, the larger than life beauty blogger (who I’ll admit I wasn’t drawn to) and Owen, who is best described as *the love interest* (which doesn’t quite do justice to his uniqueness, but you’ll see why I refer to him as that if you read the book). I especially appreciated the entangled relationships and how believable they were.
This also included the victim herself- who, despite being dead, was so dynamic that she sent aftershocks of her memory through the book. However, she’s not portrayed as a straight-up victim- there’s more than one side to this story. Summer is a complex character- who will make you rage one minute and weep for her the next. Woven into the murder mystery, her life story is devastating. As scary as she can get in her own right, and as much as she is capable of breaking other people, the reader can never forget how broken she is in her own right.
The story is not just a suspense-filled thriller (and it most certainly is that!); it is a dark tale of heartbreak and deals with incredibly sensitive topics (don’t forget, this is a story of child murder). From the image of the piles of junk piling up in Mia’s house, to Brynn stewing in a rehab centre, the reader is instantly given a glimpse into the darkness of their world- and that feeling doesn’t let up throughout the book.
While there is some humour to offset the grim tone, this darkness is also reflected in the magical world of Lovelorn. The world of Lovelorn is both created out of snippets from a book the trio were obsessed with and from the fanfic they wrote on it to continue the story. Now, I will admit, I have a great love for stories that incorporate other stories, so I’m a little biased- BUT I will say that the way this was connected was bolder than most. The narratives of both are intrinsically linked with the plot– from the suspicion that they used the book as a manual for their own demonic ritual to the hints of child snatching in the original story. I loved the complexity of Lovelorn and the amazing symbolism used with the Shadow. I liked that it wasn’t too complicated, but you got the sense it could have been a real book. What was especially awesome was Wade’s interpretation of the book as nothing special, except for its ending.
And I don’t want to spoil anything, yet the ending here was equally phenomenal. There was so much build up and real tension throughout that set my heart racing from the start. Clues and red herrings were scattered throughout the plot and I didn’t know where it was going. Now I get that some people might have reservations about the ending, I see how this kind of conclusion might be divisive, however all I can say is AHHH I LOVE THAT SHE WENT THERE WITH THAT ENDING! For me, it was perfection. And that’s why I had to give it:
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!