Written by: Eileen Cook
Published: June 7, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive psychological thriller about a teenage girl who cannot remember the last six weeks of her life.
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
Wow! Seriously, wow. This book is really fantastic. I was stuck on which book I should listen to on audio this week so as usual when decisions are tough, I took to Twitter. I asked you to vote and the odds were overwhelming, With Malice. So I snagged the audio and had very high hopes. And boy was I not disappointed. This book is everything I look for in a YA mystery and more.
For one thing I absolutely loved the mystery. This is my mystery month on the blog and I am often in search of a good YA mystery. One that is solvable but still shocks me. Those are rare. This is one of those books. It really built to a thrilling conclusion that had me totally shocked. For the first time in a long time I have found a mystery that I couldn't solve which actually had clues to back it up. It's rare for me to be so convinced of a solution and have it not be proven correct. So well done, With Malice. You surprised and shocked me on a mystery and that made you thoroughly entertaining for this fan of the genre.
Speaking of the mystery, this is one those books where the main character has amnesia or lost their memory. This is a really common trope in mysteries and if I'm being honest, it's not my favorite. I find that it can very easily be done done badly. When they have amnesia that is more of a plot device to put off solving the mystery and it typically prolongs things for me. Usually they avoid giving you clues and then end with a dues ex machina. But With Malice didn't do that. Despite the fact that the character couldn't remember anything, we as the reader were given a lot of information about what could and did happen. It had clues by way of blog posts and police investigations. It made for a really creative format and a unique mystery which added to my love of the book and it's mystery.
But the best thing about the character with amnesia is that it means we had an unreliable narrator. I love those kind of MCs and it's one of the ways that lost memory tropes can go so well. When the main character has doubts of what happened it creates so much doubt for me as the reader and that always makes for a really fantastic mystery. Jill was that kind of narrator and it made her very compelling even when she was not very likable. But the MC is not the only unreliable character. This was also a mystery that was full of characters that made me question and doubt their actions and motivations. At one point or another I questioned almost everyone who was involved and even some people who couldn't possibly be connected.
I also want to take a second to talk about the audiobook for this one. I thought the format for this book translated really well to audio. I feel like the narrator did a good job of establishing the tone of the book. She was able to create that doubt and uncertainty with her narration and the blog posts and interviews added an interesting level of the story. I did sometimes get confused by who was speaking because she didn't really vary her voice a lot between characters but in general I found the audio to be really good and engrossing. I would definitely recommend the audio of you want to read this book and are curious about the format.
On the whole I absolutely loved With Malice. It's that rare YA mystery that totally surprised and shocked me. It had a mystery that had great clues along the way despite having a character without any memory of the event and an unreliable narrator that developed a real feeling of doubt.
I give With Malice by Eileen Cook 9.5 (but probably like 9.8) out of 10 stars
Have you read With Malice? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!