Step one of enjoying this book is understanding that it is nothing like the author’s first book, Ghostboy, Chameleon and the Duke of Graffitti. That was an awesome, heartwarming and emotional read, and I highly recommend it. The Masterpiecers, though, is more of a Gillian Flynn meets Orange Is The New Black tale. It is a much darker work and it feels cold and calculating from page one. I should have expected that, except I’m pretty sure I just saw the author’s name and dove in. I’m almost entirely certain that I didn’t even read the premise or that I read it and ignored it. The fault is my own, so it is entirely possible that you will read this book and scoff at my three star assessment.
Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.
Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.
Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.
I wanted to love this book, and I think there will be a lot of people who will, but I’m not going to be one of them. The atmosphere is oppressive, and there is a real sense of impending doom throughout the story. The twin sisters who narrate the book are hard to pin down. Their dual narrative creates most of the suspense because it is clear that one or both of them has to be unreliable, but they are both characters you want to believe. Even as the truth slowly comes to light, it is difficult to decide who is lying, deluded, or naïve. I did enjoy the mystery this dynamic created, but it colored my perceptions of the other elements in the book. I was so cautious with the main characters that I found it hard to dredge up much sympathy for them. I found myself feeling cynical about the relationships developed and even in the coincidences of the plot line. I still found the story compelling and entertaining, but it didn’t garner the emotional connections I made in the author’s first book. Language, situations, and character ages make this more of a New Adult than a YA.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.