With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published June 7, 2016, by HMH Books for Young Readers.
YA > Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron’s senior trip to Italy was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. And then the accident happened. Waking up in a hospital room, her leg in a cast, stitches in her face, and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be, Jill comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident in her travels abroad. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
I liked With Malice, I did. While I was reading it, it was enjoyable. But in looking back to write this review, I found a lot of things that made me realize while I did enjoy it, this book was lacking in a lot of areas.
Coming off of reading another intense mystery/thriller, I couldn’t help but make comparisons in my head about how this was similar to said book, but fell short where the other soared.
The first issue I had with this one was the pacing of the story. It was slow. I guess this was understandable, considering that Jill was stuck either in the hospital or rehab for the entirety of the story, yet nothing particularly exciting happened. The few moments that I would classify as “exciting” were the moments that I predicted.
Brining me to my next qualm: predictability. This book tried really really hard to shock its reader! Maybe it’s because I read quite a bit of mysteries and thrillers, and just lots of YA in general. Either way, I wasn’t shocked. I did think to myself, “Hmm, that’s an interesting development” but never “Man, did I not see that coming!”
Third problem: Jill was one of the most boring main characters ever. I didn’t really care what happened to her because she lacked so much personality! She is set up to be an unreliable narrator who is dealing with amnesia as a result of the accident. Of course since she’s our main character we’re supposed to be rooting for her, and believing that she’s innocent and wrongly accused of the crime. To a point, I was, yet I knew something was up, as it almost always is with unreliable narrator situations.
The ending tried to shock the reader once again, but instead only left us confused and the story unresolved. The attempt to turn our expectations on their head was unsuccessful for me, actually leaving me a bit annoyed that I wasn’t given a proper ending.
Rereading this review, I totally sound like I hated this book, which isn’t the case. Sure, it had its issues, but I didn’t slam it down and call it a waste of my time. The premise was interesting, but the execution was lackluster.