Written by: Regan McDonell
Number of Pages: 304
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Published: April 3, 2018
Read in March 2018
Summary According to Goodreads
Psycho. Sick. Dangerous. Real Dufresne’s reputation precedes him. When the mangled body of his best friend, Shaun, turns up in a field just east of town, tough-as-hell Real blames himself. But except for the nightmares, all Re remembers is beating the living crap out of Shaun the night of his death.
Shaun’s girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Evie Hawley, keeps her feelings locked up tight. But now she’s pregnant, and the father of her baby is dead. And when Real looks to her to atone for his sins, everything goes sideways. Fast.
The tighter Evie and Real get, the faster things seem to fall apart. And falling in love might just be the card that knocks the whole house down.
I received an e-book arc of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion in any way.
I went into this novel expecting a chilling darkness, which came from both the cover and the synopsis. Reading “psycho”, “sick”, and “dangerous” as the tag lines of a synopsis detailing a guy whose best friend dies, I thought this was going to be gruesome and heavy. Unfortunately it ended up being another contemporary following two teens who shouldn’t be together but fall anyway.
There were more issues than positives in my reading experience of this novel, one of the biggest issues being the lack of plot development. It started out as engaging, but fell flat for about 70% of the story, before picking up as interesting again. The story slowly became less about the friendships and grieving, and more about the budding insta-love that was happening between Real and Evie. I felt as though there wasn’t enough consistency, too many cliches to count, and a few confusing plot elements that lost my attention.
However, I did appreciate that it is Canadian and focuses on some diverse characters - that being French and of Native heritage. Some of the religious and cultural beliefs recognized in this novel were ones that I was only partially familiar with, so I enjoyed being exposed on a deeper level. I did find this to be a quick read, probably aided by the fact that I read it on my iPad, since I tend to fly through ebooks. Her writing style was engaging and flowed well, but she was also descriptive in her atmospheres which I liked. But everyone cried all of the time, and that got old quite quickly. This is Regan McDonell’s first published work, and I hope she continues to write and develop her talent for storytelling.
One of the most important elements in a novel is characters and their subsequent development, but I found both to be quite lacking in this novel. This story is told through alternating perspectives of the main characters, which was fine, but it also bounced between past and present randomly and confusingly. Real was built-up as this tough guy that people didn’t mess with, but all of a sudden he’s a crying mess that is torn between two girls? And Evie is written as a quiet girl that only joined the friend group because of Shaun, and is now suddenly centre of attention? Not believable enough for me. t found the characters to be unlikeable, but was able to find some compassion for them through the grieving of their best friend and boyfriend. Unfortunately once the two started pursuing a relationship together and falling too hard too fast, I lost respect for the both of them and just wanted to get to the conclusion of what happened to Shaun.
Overall, I went into this with the expectations of a murder-mystery, and was disappointed to find just another contemporary. If you enjoy reading dark contemporaries, I would recommend checking this one out upon its release, but it wasn’t anything that blew me out of the water.