October 22, 2013
Author: C.J. Lyons ♥ cjlyonswriter
Expected Publication: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Summary from Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page.
The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.
Average Rating on Goodreads (as of 10/22/2013): 3.96
- Christina puts this thriller on her third shelf. To find out more about why…
**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
♥ Initial Thoughts and Actual Rating: 3 stars! It took me quite a while to get into this novel, actually. I wasn’t sure what to expect and couldn’t figure out where the blurb of a “fast-paced thriller” was going to come into play. I knew something felt off about the story, but at the beginning, it just read like it was a story about an ill-fated girl who was surrounded by asshole peers. Luckily for me, secrets started being uncovered toward the middle and the twists and turns slowly started leaking out. The end had my heart pounding for sure, though.
♥ The Lowdown: Early in life, Scarlet Killian was diagnosed with a Long QT, heart condition that made everyday life a struggle because her heart would beat erratically for no reason at all other than it didn’t have a way of controlling itself. She never got to experience a normal life- school, friends, fun– because she was always at high risk for going into cardiac arrest all because she got a little too excited. But at fifteen years of age and with a low life expectancy, she decides to finally put her foot down and demand she get to live as close to normally as she can for what little life she possibly has left. So, her parents finally relent and give her a one-week test trial in school. If she can survive the week without any Near Misses or having to use Phil (her Automated External Defibrillator), then she can stay enrolled permanently.
She knew she would be easily noticed in her new school, but she wasn’t expecting to be outright ostracized and labeled a freak-girl from the very first day. But after a Biology project makes her dig a little deeper into her sickness, she learns that there may be something more sinister at the school than the bullies that terrorize her daily.
♥ My Thoughts: This novel wasn’t really what I was expecting at all, and that’s kind of good and kind of not-so-good. It seemed like it had so many elements pulling my attention in every direction– maybe this was done purposely to keep us distracted so that the ending was more of a shocker– that I found it extremely difficult to focus on one area. This could have simply been a solid contemporary about a girl that struggles with wanting a normal life and not being able to have it because of her heart condition. Or, it could have been a solid contemporary that focused on the bullying aspect of a girl and her friends, for being picked on for no other reason than they were different. Or, it could have been a novel about the more thrilling aspect of the novel that kept you guessing had it had more of a build-up to it. (I’m being vague on purpose here so I don’t spoil anything.) But with all of those elements combined, it seemed a bit over-the-top, and I think that made the “shocking” aspect of the story have less of an impact.
My other main issue with the book was that I wasn’t able to connect to Scarlet, or any of the other characters for that matter. It’s difficult to pinpoint my exact problem was with them, other than the fact that they came across as a bit flat for a majority of the story. Perhaps I was too sidetracked by the constant mentioning of their “personal troubles” and the bullying. It’s because of of this that I never felt like I knew them or what motivated their actions as a character aside from their faults. Lots of telling, not near enough showing.
All that said, I will say that the despite the lackluster beginning, I really got into the last quarter of the book where everything started unraveling. My heart was jack-hammering around and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how it was all going to go down and where the big reveal was going to happen. However, it felt like it was all packed in at the end and I wish we would have gotten a little more of the aftermath once it was over. Basically, I wanted to see how exactly the bad guy got theirs when the dust settled and how Scarlet’s life was once she was free.
♥ Rec It? Possibly, but I’d probably advise you get it at the library before you put down cash on it just to make sure this is your type of read. [UNLESS YOU PRE-ORDER IT NOW AND YOU CAN GET THE EBOOK FOR A LIMITED TIME, DISCOUNTED-PRICE OF $4.99. But this special price is only available if you pre-order the novel before November 5! ] The ending was surprisingly good, even though I had it figured out toward the middle of the book, and definitely still caught me unaware.
♥ A very special thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Net Galley for letting me preview an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.