I wasn’t a fan of this author’s paranormal books, but I really enjoyed this YA Suspense/Thriller. I thought that there was a nice complexity to the plot, characters, and conflicts. Underlying themes of family, friendship, responsibility and guilt added depth. I think fans of Becca Fitzpatrick will be pleasantly surprised, and her naysayers will be pretty surprised as well. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy YA contemporary mysteries rand romance as well as those who enjoy small town life and all the complexities that accompany it.
A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.
Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.
As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…
As a narrative voice, I liked Stella, and she felt like a real teen dealing with the big issues of being ripped out of her own life. She is initially bratty, but I think most of us would act in the same way (let’s be real – I pout when there aren’t any cold cokes in the fridge or when the lunch menu at school is wrong, so leaving my past, present, and planned future behind would probably involve an all out temper tantrum). Once readers start peeling her layers back, it is clear that she is not a bad person, but a girl who desperately is clinging to the only security she has had for the last few years. She cares about people and has a righteous anger when she thinks someone is being a bully. It is that characteristic tendency that plays havoc and creates both internal and external conflict that I thought was both believable and compelling. Chet is the love interest in the story, and most readers will fall quickly and hard for this reformed bad boy of a cowboy. He isn’t too country, and he has a backstory that let’s you know he can get up to some antics, but he is the guy you want to cuddle up with in the back of a pick up truck. While there is some concern about a love triangle, the other guy is in the Witness Protection Program, too, and readers are told up front that Stella won’t be able to contact him ever again, so the battle between the boys really takes place in Stella’s mind – I honestly didn’t really consider this a love triangle at all. The story was nicely paced to develop relationships and allow time for a believable epiphany, but it also maintained a nice tension by giving Stella an adversary in her new setting in addition to the drug dealer who wants to snuff her out back in Phillie. There are some characters I wanted to know a little more about, but I thought the resolution was satisfying, and I think most readers will as well. I started this book late at night, and two hours had passed when I looked up again! Clearly, it reads easily and the story and characters are absorbing. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but I think adult readers of YA will enjoy this book as well.
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.