Our lives are made up of choices, you see. Big ones, small ones, strung together by the thin air of good intentions; a line of dominoes, ready to fall.
Well, holy shit. I want to invite Abigail Haas over to my house so we can be best friends and plot world domination together. But possibly not before I hide all sharp objects first. Honestly, I cannot imagine what it must be like living inside her head, but I do know she writes some of the best psychological thrillers I have ever picked up.
Let me tell you: I am not generous with 5 star ratings. I give them out sparingly to books that really surprise me with their originality or a special something that just makes them stand out… so the fact that Haas has written a grand total of two books and both have prompted me to give out 5 star ratings is almost unheard of. I’m really struggling to think of another time when this has happened. Nope, can’t think of one.
This is another case where I don’t know how much to tell you. I just want to say: GO READ IT. Like all readers of mysteries, you will try to guess what happens. Maybe you will get it right, most likely you won’t. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Because Haas delivers something better than a murder mystery… she delivers complex psychology that had me questioning everything, wondering if I should be looking over my own damn shoulder, and hanging on every single word.
Despite the title, Haas doesn’t wander too far from her area of expertise – the twisted, confused, longing that permeates the minds of teenage girls. At first, I thought to myself “this book is good but I still prefer Dangerous Girls”… now I’m really not so sure. This book just played upon so many emotions and packed punches at every turn. Once you think you know something, the story spins in a certain way so that you change your mind.
From the moment you’re born, people start folding you into neat pieces and tucking you inside a box of their own design. They dress you up in their own expectations, before you even have a chance to understand the constrictions of your fate. That box becomes so cozy and warm, you never really notice that you’re bent double, fighting for room to breathe.
The story is about three people – Chloe, Ethan and Oliver – and the build-up of their complicated relationships and jealousies (told between the past and the present). We know that Chloe and one of the boys has made it out of a fire; we know that the other boy is dead; but what we don’t know is: which boy made it out alive? What happened inside that house? And why?
The author is a master of mystery… but more than that she’s a master of carefully-woven relationships. This story fascinated me on every level. From the sad story of Chloe’s mum’s depression, to the exploration of someone trying to deal with their dreams falling apart, to the way small bad thoughts are shown to be able to grow into something else. There’s an unsettling kind of truth in Haas’s psychology because she starts with the bad thoughts we all have now and then – a feeling of resentment towards someone who depends on us, a feeling of desire for someone we should never be thinking about – and creates something much more sinister out of it. In short: Haas appeals to the inner demons lying in all of us.
I’m not going to say anything else. Just seriously READ IT. I can’t wait to see what you all think!
Well, well, well, looks like we have a winner on our hands, folks! Abigail Hass has delivered another nail bitingly suspenseful book that will keep you on the edge of your seat and tips of your toes. And, mercifully, this cover isn’t horrifyingly terrible.
DO NOT OPEN SPOILERS UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED!
The story is about two boys- brothers, and one girl. The girl, Chloe, is counting down the days till she’s free from her small town and off to college where she can lose herself in the crowds and find the excitement she’s always dreamed of, but her plan veers completely off course just a scant few weeks prior to her sendoff. As she’s struggling to deal with this turn of events she meets a boy named Ethan, and he’s a great guy: caring, attentive, attractive, hard working, and everything else one would ever hope for in a boyfriend. But. But then Chloe meets someone else and her world suddenly becomes something out of a fiction novel and she can’t, or maybe won’t, put things back to rights.
In Hass’ other novel, Dangerous Girls, I flip flopped repeatedly on who I thought was the guilty person and there is no difference in this one, and though the mystery isn’t the same there’s PLENTY to be shocked at! Trust. I was thinking one thing and hoping I was wrong, only to go back and forth on the fact that I couldn’t be wrong, but oh how I had to be, surely that’s not what happened. Surely I’m wrong. I stayed up until I fell asleep on accident and would have finished this first thing this morning, but I couldn’t, and instead I had to obsess all day over what was at the heart of the story. Does good triumph over evil? Is there even a battle between good and evil at all or am I just looking at the whole thing with no gray areas? Maybe it’s just the pain of being young and dumb, and the choices that can be made that are so wrong, and even though one may know they’re wrong they still make that choice anyway. Isn’t that how we learn? How we become the adults we’ve become? I know I’ve got many (many) choices in my young adult life that I’d go back and do differently. Make better choices. Be the good person. There’s so many layers in this story that I could identify with, and others that I couldn’t help but be fascinated or repulsed by.
The writing has to be addressed: I said it before and I’ll say it again, Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! I first discovered Dangerous Girls right when the censuring debacle went down, and I took that really hard. I was all over The Thread That Ruined It All and I didn’t want to participate with the bullshit that Goodreads was feeding us any longer. Then Em tells me about that book and it was exactly what I needed, that magical escape where I don’t have to live in my world, I’ll live in theirs and I loved her for it even though I wasn’t going to give GR a review. I love her still, and GR can still kiss my ass, but I’m going to keep reviewing for those who care enough to read what I think. Hass is something else I can tell you that. She writes with precision and there’s nothing unnecessary anywhere, if you miss something then you’re missing a clue, not just a needless set of words and nary a filler scene to be found. (view spoiler)[Like the clues as to how often Chloe would hint at her darkness but I thought for sure she was just feeling the guilt from her affair. (hide spoiler)]
I’m in awe over the complexity that the characters are written with: the mother who suffers a debilitating breakdown and depression, the boy who has so many secrets and hidden agendas, the one who is earnest and free, the one who feels trapped in their own choices, the one who got off scott free, the one who knows better… so many characters and all of them perfectly written. Perfectly.
If you don’t typically read mysteries then I still highly recommend you read this, and the first too of course though they’re not related, because this is a special book and a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes and you don’t have to reread to remind yourself of so-and-so, nope, everything is still seared into your memory even months (and years) later. Seriously folks, you gotta read this.