Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Title: Dead Girls Don't Lie
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release date: September 17th 2013
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
Source: Bought
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Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text.
Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth. 
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Dead Girls Don't Lie is one of those books where I can't really think of anything to say other than, "Ehh. It was okay." I guess I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't be sad to have missed out on it. The premise sounded promising, and I don't have any huge complaints, but there also wasn't anything that would make me really love this story.

I know a lot of people complained about the main character, saying she was too naïve, but that didn't really bother me because it's realistic: the story acknowledges that she's naïve, and I know we'd all like to think we'd be smarter in a situation like this, but I'm pretty sure I'd be oblivious too, so I can't really fault Jaycee for that. But while that didn't really bother me, I wasn't a huge fan of Jaycee, either; not because there's anything wrong with her, but because she's just kind of boring. She's the stereotypical good girl that does no wrong and goes to church every week (the religion aspect was a bit much for me, too). She was okay, but I just wish there had been something more to her.

The mystery was pretty good, but for some reason, I didn't get as into it as I usually do with murder mysteries. I think part of that is because Jaycee doesn't actually find out anything at all; she's really not much of a detective. Things just kind of happen to her, and people tell her what happened. While there is definitely an element of danger, it didn't feel as real as in mysteries where the main character was actually actively figuring things out.

I still don't know how to feel about the solution. I had kind of already figured it out early on, but then I thought that would be too obvious... but it did turn out to be true. I thought the revelation wasn't a hundred percent in accordance to the way the person who did it was acting throughout the novel, even if it is explained at the end. The solution is also kind of drawn out: we find out who did it, but then it takes a whiiile for Jaycee to really understand what happened and for anything to be resolved, and the final action scene seemed kind of staged. I think this ending was an interesting solution, but the psychology behind it was too complex and not actually explored enough for this to work.

In the beginning of the novel, the story tries really hard to be about race. I think this was a good attempt, but it wasn't done thoroughly enough, and the way Jennifer Shaw Wolf went about it just made me feel kind of icky. The novel is set in a small, white town that has some Mexican immigrants, and there's a lot of racism towards these "outsiders." So of course, when Rachel gets murdered, everyone assumes it was one of those Mexican gangbangers, and Jaycee tries to relieve some of those racial tensions. But as much as it's trying to criticize the Mexican gangbanger stereotype, the story doesn't really do all that much to disprove it: honestly, the portrayal of the Mexican characters is pretty stereotypical, along with the bad Spanglish dialogue that was so obviously written by a white person. It also made me feel really weird how Jaycee is supposed to be the one "good" white person, as if she should get brownie points for crossing to the other side of the river and talking to the Mexicans. The whole topic just kind of goes away towards the end, without any more exploration. Really, it was a nice try, but it just doesn't go in-depth enough to really do anything. 

That's basically all I have to say about Dead Girls Don't Lie; it's an okay novel all around. If the story sounds interesting to you, go for it - there's nothing horribly bad about it. But there was also nothing that would make me really love it. All in all, it was just a very underwhelming read. 


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