By Kelley Armstrong
Publication Date: April 11, 2023
Prolific author Kelley Armstrong presents another thriller – this one aimed at the teen set. I believe the original publication date was in January 2023, but the cover seems to have been pulled so I’m excited to see the new cover reveal (the status as of October 2022, the date of this review).
Blythe is ambitious, a math whiz, and never, ever acts out. Or usually doesn’t. Sometimes when she’s with her best friend, Tucker, she lets her bad girl out to play. But that’s to be expected, since Tucker is considered the trouble-maker of their tight-knit friend group, all students at a STEM high school for children of the researchers and employees of CMT, a neurological research lab.
But Blythe knows that Tucker has an unearned reputation. They’re all just kids, and are actually pretty well-adjusted, right? It seems that way, until Blythe’s best friend has an apparent psychotic break, claiming the security cameras in the highschool are watching her, just before she tries to cut her throat with a boxcutter. While trying to figure out what might have triggered Gabrielle, as well as why her own memories seem to conflict with what she’s been told, Blythe and Tucker stumble upon a cover up by CMT that has them questioning their own memories and whether anything they believe is real.
I’ve not read any YA by Kelley Armstrong so I was excited to dive into this ARC. The first line is awesome and promises a great psychological thriller: Do you want to do something bad? Immediately we see the dynamics between Tucker and Blythe, but nothing is as it seems in this novel. Through one plot twist after another, the reader is kept guessing what is going on, who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy, and who is behind the seemingly random attacks on the highschool students. I blew through this book in two days, impatient to find out the answers. In addition, it’s a fairly large cast of characters and the author did a splendid job making use of all of them.
That last point leads me to my only criticism of the book. The point of view jumps around, seemingly landing on whichever character is the most convenient to advance the plot. Sometimes I would have rather been kept in the dark until a later reveal. At other times, the secondary character in a chapter is kept intentionally vague, but it happened so rarely it stood out as an obvious tease.
Final word – if you like high-tech thrillers where scientists play fast and loose with research subjects, you’ll read this one as quickly as I did.
3.75/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for providing the ARC ebook. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.