Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

Title: The Devil You Know
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult mystery/romance
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I fangirled about Trish Doller's debut Something Like Normal forever, but then never got around to reading her sophomore novel. Which is why I was beyond excited to get an eGalley of her newest, The Devil You Know. And despite my very high expectations, The Devil You Know did not disappoint!

Even though I knew the novel would take a thriller-esque turn eventually, I absolutely loved the first half of the book, before any of that started. With Trish Doller's writing and these characters, I wouldn't even have cared if nothing had happened with the mystery; the novel wouldn't really have had a point, but I could have kept reading Cadie's story forever without even needing a real plot. 

The main reason I loved this book, and especially the first part, is Cadie. Cadie's not the typical YA MC - she has strong opinions and isn't afraid to tell you about them; she's tough, quick-witted, and snarky, and I loved everything about her. Her voice is strong, and I loved being inside her head for this story. I also loved her family - her mom, who died a couple of years ago, was a badass feminist whose opinions definitely rubbed off on her. Cadie's relationship with her dad is fully-developed, too, and I loved her little brother Danny.

This romance is such a breath of fresh air in YA romances. How Cadie and Noah meet is very un-YA but very realistic. I loved Noah's character - he's older than the typical YA love interest, and he's gone through a lot of stuff with his family. The dark backstory worked perfectly with his character. The two of them have amazing chemistry, and I would have been perfectly happy if the novel consisted of scenes between these two exclusively.

I also loved how figuring out who you are and what you're doing with your life was integrated into the story in such a casual way. It's not the focus of the story, but there's plenty of references to how Cadie wants to get out of the small-town life that she feels is trapping her, without knowing where she would want to go or what she would want to do. Cadie learns a lot and grows over the course of the story, trying to figure out how to balance what she wants and still supporting her family. Casual is really the only way I can describe how this whole storyline is handled, how Cadie finds ways to live her life fully without demonizing where she comes from.

Even though there's a creepy atmosphere throughout the novel, the actual thriller-part doesn't start until pretty far into the book. I did have some issues with the mystery - it's pretty predictable as I knew more or less exactly who the killer would be and what would happen is pretty obvious. The motivations of the killer aren't quite fleshed-out enough to be realistic, and it was strange to me how the other guy didn't know what was going on and didn't do anything to stop it. But I did still enjoy the mystery element: the suspense throughout the novel is expertly done, and the creepy atmosphere kept me on my toes even if I did already see the plot twist coming. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe the plot twist wasn't even supposed to be surprising: knowing who the killer would be, and how Cadie so willingly trusts him and walks into his trap, made for a very suspenseful and thrilling read.

Trish Doller has impressed me with her writing once again. Her engrossing writing kept me flipping the pages faster and faster, except when I had to stop and marvel at one of her especially poignant and powerful sentences. While the mystery isn't perfect, the memorable characters and impressive writing more than made up for it. I need to get my hands on a copy of Trish Doller's sophomore novel, Where the Stars Still Shine, as soon as possible!


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