Friday, August 24, 2018

ARC Review: #murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

Title: #murdertrending
Series: MurderTrending #1
Written by: Gretchen McNeil
Published: August 7, 2018 by Freeform (Disney Books)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis:WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest 8/18 citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0. 

When eighteen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?

I had heard good things about Gretchen McNeil as a mystery writer and I love a good YA mystery so I have been wanting to read her stuff for awhile now. So when I saw there were copies of this book at ALA, I picked up a copy so I could try her out. And while this was a cool concept and there were some unexpected surprises, it didn't quite blow me away.

One thing that I did really like about this book was the concept. It's one of the most creative ideas that I have read in a mystery. In some respects it had that classic mystery thing going for it where you have all these people stuck somewhere (islands are pretty popular) and you know one of them is the culprit, just not who. But then McNeil took that further by adding the reality show angle and the fact that there were serial killers trying to kill convicted criminals. It was a very unique concept and it all worked together to create a very fascinating read and concept for a mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also feel like this is a mystery with a solid plot to it. There was kind of a lot to this plot. You had the survival aspect of Dee trying to not get killed, then you had the mystery of who killed her sister and why she was wrongfully convicted, and on top of all that you had the backstory of her kidnapping. It should not have worked together but it did. It added a lot of layers to the plot and so much interest I kept wondering what was going to be revealed next and how it was all connected. It also definitely unfolded in a really good way too. Plus there was a ton of action. It had this fantastic horror movie/thriller vibe with brutal deaths and narrow escapes. McNeil did a great job of explaining the kills and they had a real cinematic quality to them. My problem with the plot however is that it almost felt too perfect. Like it just didn't seem believable sometimes. I don't want to give too much away but I'll just say I was waiting for some conspiracy to be revealed because it was all just too perfect.

But I think the perfection had a lot to do with the characters. Not that they were bad characters, they just felt a little cliche. For one thing, the main character of Dee was a complete Mary Sue. At every turn she was doing something else a little too perfectly. I love a kickass final girl but I want her to get a little lucky or surprise us with something, not be miraculously good at everything with very little explanation as to why. This was abundantly clear during the climax. The other part I just didn't really have any buy in for was the romance. The love interest was also just too perfect. He was this sweet and helpful guy who she fell for way too quickly and I wanted her to get burned by him. That would have been way more interesting to me. All in all, I just felt like these characters were just not complex enough for my taste. They weren't bad, I just feel like there was a lot of missed opportunities here. With a book that is all about serial killers and people trying to survive, I wanted more complexity.

All in all, this was an okay mystery but with a few small changes I would have enjoyed it a little bit more. The concept was cool and the plot was really engaging but the characters could have been more complex.

I give #murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. It's an okay read but not as good a mystery as I was hoping. If you are new to YA mysteries and you want one that is heavy on the blood and guts then check this one out but if you are looking for a mystery that will have you surprised and reeling, there are better books.

Have you read #murdertrending? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I definitely felt like this would go great with a big bowl of popcorn. :)

  2. Totally agree!! It was an AWESOME concept and HOOKED me right from the start-- but by the end I was like, really??? All the previous inmates never killed any of the serial killers, but this one girl with NO athletic skills is able to do ALLLLLL of that. And mostly by herself???? Too unbelievable. I wish it was more than what it seemed to be too. Like we knew about the kidnapping and we knew that was most likely the twist and then IT WAS. Like give me something unexpected!!! Like if Niles was the killer!!! That would've been SOOOO much better!