Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she’s even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus.
Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.”
Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?”
I was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. My lifeless body slumps over the cat carrier in the backseat of the twisted wreck. Bloodstains bloom through my T-shirt and jeans, and my hair sparkles with bits of broken glass.
In her distinct first-person narration, fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss reveals the secret life of a disturbed outcast. Though Elanor is believable and relatable most of the time, she could often be self-destructive and judgmental—especially of Autumn, girl who lives down the street from her new home. Her self-destructive tendencies only get worse with the appearance of Madeline.
The highlight is in the cast of characters: all are lovable and realistic, evoking genuine concern for their well-being throughout the book. In particular, Autumn and Madeline stand out.
Autumn is an outcast like Elanor was at her old school, but social standing doesn’t seem to bother her. The changing relationship between the two girls, as Elanor goes from comparing herself to and dreading that she is like Autumn to actually growing closer with the girl.
Meanwhile, the very creepy Madeline manages to be the most addictive—there could never be enough revealed about her.
A particular shift in the plot may have readers questioning Elanor’s reality—and sanity. A refreshingly engaging story, the ending lingers, leaving leave readers with much to think about.
Appropriate for ages 14+. Contains drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, and intense situations; no strong language. Deals with death and loss, suicide, family, spirituality, bullying, mental health, self-harm, and the nature of healthy or toxic friendships.
GET IT ON YOUR SHELF:
- Enjoy books filled with emotional trauma
- Need a steadily-paced psychological thriller you can’t put down
- Have ever had a friendship that went bad, hard
- Want to spend time with a strong female cast
YA Paranormal Thriller
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 5th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin (ISBN 1250030161)
(Review copy provided by Jessica Preeg at St. Martin’s Press.)
Review by Olivia Hennis, originally published 2/20/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com