Thursday, July 05, 2012

Review: Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman

Title: Circle of Silence (WiHi #2)
Author: Carol M. Tanzman
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release date: July 24th 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary YA; mystery
Source: NetGalley
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It’s my turn to run a Campus News crew, and I’ve put together a team that can break stories wide open. And Washington Irving High has a truly great one to cover, if only we can find a lead.
A secret society has formed in our school. It announced its presence with pranks: underwear on the flag pole, a toilet in the hallway, cryptic notes. A circle of silence keeps the society a mystery. No one knows its members, agenda, or initiation secrets—until a student lands in the hospital under strange circumstances.
I will blow this story wide open and stop others from being hurt…or worse. And while my ex, Jagger, might want to help, I don’t trust him yet. (And, no, not because of our past together. That is not important to this story.)
But whether you find me, Valerie Gaines, reporting in front of the camera, or a victim in the top story of the newscast…be sure to watch Campus News at 9:00 a.m. this Friday morning.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed dancergirl, so I was very excited for this one. (Cirlce of Silence is the companion to dancergirl - have I mentioned lately that I love companion novels?) Circle of Silence started kind of slow for me, but the rest of the book is just as great as dancergirl!

What I loved most about dancergirl was the creepy atmosphere, so I was a little disappointed to see that lacking in the first half of Circle of Silence. It just didn't seem as menacing and dangerous as dancergirl did - MP (the secret society) plays a few pranks, but it wasn't as big a deal as the stalker in dancergirl, in my opinion. But later on, Circle of Silence definitely brought the creepy! The MP stuff starts out small, but towards the end of the book, their pranks turn serious. And I got that feeling I loved about dancergirl again - I was thoroughly creeped out and needed to know who the bad guys are. The suspense and the mystery are great, just like in dancergirl!

I loved all the stuff about reporting in Circle of Silence! Often, in mysteries, I don't get why the MC would even care, or why they'd try to figure out what happened, because well, I wouldn't try to figure out anything - I'd keep my distance and focus on staying safe myself, to be honest. But in Circle of Silence, it makes sense - Val and her team are looking for a story, so of course they'd try to figure it out. And I just loved reading all the stuff about filming and reporting and working on a news broadcast. Don't worry if you're not interested in that - it doesn't get too technical - but there are just enough details to have me fascinated by how all of it works.

The characters are pretty good. I liked Val - she's focused and driven, but still very relatable. Her best friend is a cool character, and there's a nice romance story in there too, even though I would have liked these two characters' past to be elaborated on more.

I was kind of disappointed by the ending. I'd figured out the biggest twist beforehand, so that took a lot from it. And the very optimistic ending bugged me a little... I feel bad for saying it, but I don't want the characters to be happy for the price of the ending being unrealistic! I just think everything wrapped up a little too nicely at the end.

Circle of Silence didn't blow me away, but it's definitely a book I enjoyed reading, even if I didn't like it quite as much as dancergirl. It's a good mystery that never takes itself too seriously and perfectly balances the creepy suspense with some fun minor storylines.


  1. This sounds like The Mockingbirds and The Rivals by Daisy Whitney.

    I love anything with secret societies, and I worked on the newspaper staff at school, although we didn't have anything with live footage, so I'd totally relate to this.

    I haven't read dancergirl, but I've heard awesome things about it - and it's something that can happen to anyone with videos on youtube or live feed. BUT I'm really glad in Circle of Silence that there's equal creepiness:)

    Is the mystery something that can happen in any school, or just exclusive prep schools? Just wondering if it's a "designer" problem, if you know what I mean. I'd love it either way, but am wondering if kids who don't go to private school would have the same kind of problem.

    I love happy endings, awful endings bum me out:)

    Great review!

    1. It does have a similar feel to The Mockingbirds (haven't read Rivals yet), but the stories are pretty different.

      I think the mystery could happen at any school, yeah. It'd probably happen differently, but the main things could work anywhere.

      Ha! I know there are a lot of people who prefer happy endings, so I can't really blame authors for writing them. I personally just like endings that aren't unrealistically happy. They can be sort of happy, but I don't want everything to be perfect.

    2. You like bittersweet endings - I get how that would work really well in contemporary, but in paranormal, which I really love (I also love contemporary !!) you need that happy ending after all the battles:)

      What I hate is when you get to care about a character, they fight for their boyfriend or girlfriend, fight for their family or friends, and then at the end it makes no difference because it's such an awful ending that they end up with nothing. That's the kind of ending I hate:)

    3. Hi, I wanted to thank Hannah for the great review. Also, I wanted to let readers know that both Circle of Silence and dancergirl take place in a public high school in Brooklyn, NY. Everyone calls it WiHi for short. Although it's a fictional school, it's based on a couple of real public high schools in urban settings that I've visited. Thanks for reading contemporary!

    4. Oh that's great to know! I like stories that involve situations that can happen to all teens, not just those in really exclusive schools. I haven't read either book, but they're definitely on my wishlist:) Thanks for answering my question:)

    5. Eep - I don't think I've ever had a comment-conversation with an author! This is so cool:)

    6. Carol: Thanks for the comment! For some reason, I thought this was set at a private school... Oh well :)

      Christina: I do love bittersweet endings - but I also like happy endings and sad endings. Anything's fine, as long as it's realistic and works with the story - that's what's most important to me! I can totally see needing a happy ending in paranormal, though. And yes, I love when an author comments on a review - makes me freak out a little, in a good way :D I know some bloggers don't like when authors comment - they say it hinders discussion, that some people won't be honest anymore if they know the author's reading it, or something - but I for one love it :)

    7. I too love it when authors take part in a discussion! I don't see why it would hinder discussion, if anyone has another opinion it's the perfect opportunity to ask the author about something you're not clear on or disagree with. Books are meant to spark meaningful discussion! And who better to represent the book than the author:)

    8. That's true! But I can also see how it'd be strange if an author commented on a negative review - some people think the book needs to stand on its own and that the author shouldn't have to defend/explain it.

  2. I usually avoid contemporaries because I believe that the purpose of contemporaries are the depress the reader as much as possible. Of course there are exceptions, such as Anna and the French Kiss, but those are like fairy tales without magic. I don't consider them contemporaries anyway.

    The Circle of Silence sounds like a contemporary worth trying, regardless of my tendency to steer clear of contemporaries. Maybe it's because I am a sucker for mysteries.

    Anyway, your review seems to portray Circle of Silence as a worth while read, so I'm definitely going to check out dancergirl and Circle of Silence.

    1. I read pretty much only contemporaries, so I'm not the best person to aks for a rec for someone who reads mainly non-contemporaries. But I do think theses books could work for a reader like you - they do have some of the happy, fast-paced feel some paranormal stories have!

  3. I read Dancergirl partially based on your review, and I really enjoyed it, so I am looking forward to the companion novel!
    I have a love-hate relationship with happy endings. Part of me just wants everything to be perfect and wonderful for the characters, but at the same time, books that break your heart tend to be more memorable. It depends on the story; for some, a happy ending is best, but for others, I say bring on the tears.

  4. I haven't read DANCERGIRL yet. Great to hear your thoughts thank you.


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