Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

In contrast to the book I reviewed this morning, Dead Girls Don't Lie started out strong for me, but faded a bit toward the end.

Another Whitney Award finalist in YA fiction, Dead Girls Don't Lie starts at the funeral of Jaycee's best friend Rachel.  Jaycee's grief felt very real as she processed her own feelings of loss, regret, and guilt, and how to try to reestablish a "normal" life after such an earth-shattering event.  Not only is the girl who has been her best friend since they were little gone, but the last few months of Rachel's life they grew apart so Jaycee missed out on her last opportunities to spend time with Rachel.  And the night Rachel is killed, Jaycee ignored multiple texts from her while spending time with a boy she liked; maybe if she'd answered, Rachel would still be alive.

But then Jaycee receives a video message from Rachel pointing her toward Rachel's murderer and telling her to only trust someone she identifies as "E", and she starts looking in to the events of the night they made a terrifying and traumatic discovery in an abandoned house.  As Jaycee peals back layers of lies and deception, it's impossible to know who she can trust and who may be out to get rid of her, too.

Wolf definitely keeps the suspense level high throughout the story.  Small town suspicions are exacerbated by racial tensions.  Drugs and gangs are involved, as well as some real moments of clarity regarding cultural differences and social realities.  I kept wishing that the teenage characters would actually talk to their parents and other adults rather than running headlong into dangerous situations, or that their parents would actually talk to them about difficult topics. If any communication had been happening between generations, a whole lot of grief could have been avoided.

I will say that I wasn't particularly pleased with the depiction of mental illness and how it fit into the story.  Dead Girls Don't Lie is a definite page-turner, though, and will keep you guessing with its twists and turns to the very end.

Dead Girls Don't Lie
by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
ISBN: 9780802734495
Buy it from Amazon here: (hardcoverpaperback, ebook, audiobook)
Find it at a local independent bookseller.
Look it up on Goodreads.
Check it out at your local library (find the nearest one here)

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