Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Six Months Later by Natalie D Richards

Title: Six Months Later
Author: Natalie D Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: October 1st 2013
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult contemporary/mystery
Source: Bought
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Chloe didn't think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life. Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.
What happened to her? And why can't she remember?
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I was going into this expecting a character-driven novel. I had assumed the explanation for Chloe's memory loss would be psychological, and that the novel would be spent exploring Chloe's character and the way that she has changed. However, none of this is really case: Six Months Later is really a mystery, and ll the stuff about the memory loss and the way that Chloe has changed is only used as a starting point for that mystery storyline. And while this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, it wasn't what I expected, and I didn't like the way the story worked too much: the whole thing seemed over-the-top and unrealistic to me.

Even if Six Months Later is more of a mystery than a character-driven novel, I still think that the characters should play an important role, and should therefore be fully-developed. Sadly, they stayed very one-dimensional for me: I never felt like I really got to know Chloe, and the secondary characters are stereotypical and underdeveloped.

The mystery, though, I did really enjoy. The premise of Six Months Later is intriguing, and that's what kept me turning the pages. Even if i didn't like the resolution all that much, I still really enjoyed Chloe's investigations about what caused her loss of memory. The situation is scary, both in the traditional way that mysteries often are, and in a psychological way, since we don't know if there was an outside force involved or if something inside the main character's mind caused the loss of memory. Trying to figure it all out, and the thrill of the mystery, were my favorite parts of the novel.

But even if I liked the journey of trying to figure it out, the resolution left me very disappointed. Like I said, I was expecting something psychological, and this wasn't it. The whole story seemed a little ridiculous to me - I didn't understand the motivations of anyone involved, some of the details didn't match up, and I just didn't find the resolution realistic.

Another thing that bothered me about Six Months Later is the way that mental illness is addressed. Since it's not a psychological story or character study, this is not the main focus, but it's still mentioned throughout the novel. For the most part, though, this is only when Chloe is defending herself and saying she isn't "crazy," as if her anxiety issues were the most humiliating thing in the world. Especially since Chloe wants to study psychology, I found such a negative portrayal of mental illness disconcerting. The portrayal of Julien's character is particularly problematic in this context, especially because we don't really get a resolution as to what happened to her.

All in all, I'm just very disappointed by Six Months Later. Instead of a character-driven, psychological thriller, I got a failed attempt at a mystery. The unrealistic plot, the underdeveloped characters, and the implications about mental illness made it impossible for me to enjoy this novel.


  1. Thank you very much for your honest review. It really helps to read it when I am trying to decide if I would like to read a book.


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