Kelsey Sutton’s Gardenia didn’t really grab me at first glance, but as soon as I read an excerpt, I was hooked. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and I think you might, too. I will admit that the premise did sound like a few other books I’ve seen before, but this story had some charm that I thought the others lacked. I gave this YA suspense four stars.
Gardenia is publishing Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.
Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.
A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.
Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.
The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.
What an engrossing suspense read! There are so many possible suspects and so many red herrings that I found it impossible to even take a good guess at the killer’s identity. To be fair, I’m not sure the clues are there until the big reveal, which can be a pet peeve of mine, but I didn’t mind in this case. What was even more surprising was how satisfying the narrator’s development is in the midst of the mystery. I love the fact that she makes a tough decision about facing her short future, and it is really heartwarming (something I can’t often say about a book in this genre). It definitely made the ending more rewarding. I also really like how the narrator is a believable character. She is a blend of selfish and self-sacrificing that really allowed me to feel she was genuine, and it was easy to be sympathetic to her situation. I did find it hard to keep all the male characters straight – a couple had names that started with “M,” and that made it more difficult. It wasn’t a perfect read, but I thought it was a really good one. There is just enough creepiness to really draw my high school students in, and enough depth to keep them reading. I know my mystery and suspense readers will find it as hard to put down as I did, so this is definitely going on my classroom library wish list. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.