by Sarah Alderson
To be published on May 12, 2015
by Simon & Schuster
Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Liva came to New York City, all she wanted was to escape the painful memories of her past and finally find a fresh start. Her hopes for a new future were dashed the moment she became the sole witness to a brutal murder. When she's taken into police custody - supposedly for her own protection - she realizes something isn't right, but it's too late. Soon, bullets start flying, and Liva realizes that she is not just a witness, but the target - and she needs to escape before it's too late. With the help of a sexy car thief that she met at the station, Liva manages to get away from the massacre unharmed, but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit the two killers who will stop at nothing to find them. Liva and Jay are living on the edge, but when you're on the edge, there's a long way to fall.
My take: I love thrillers. But as I've said many times, teen thrillers and police procedurals often have (inevitable) believability issues. I did think that Out of Control managed to conquer some of those issues for me -- the book was able to convince me that a teenage girl could be a gun-wielding badass. The overall plot, though, was a little sketchy. I admired that the book tried to highlight the problem of human trafficking, but that part of the plot wasn't very detailed or terribly convincing. Ditto for a gang subplot that made the gang members (the "Latin Blades") seem as menacing as characters out of West Side Story. But I was touched by the way the trauma that main character Liva suffers at the beginning of the book dredges up a painful loss in her past. Liva's memories of Felix added some nice emotional depth.
Another highlight of the book (for me) was the romance. Just a warning that Out of Control features one of those "we just met but might die any minute so let's get it on" insta-relationships, but the romance had its sweet moments, with confident Liva being more of the pursuer and laid-back, green-eyed (of course!) Jay more reluctant. (Liva's continued obsession with her tantalizing glimpse of Jay's man parts at a time when they were running for their lives did make me snort a few times.)
The book was suspenseful, though some readers may see one or both of the book's major reveals a mile away. I guessed one reveal but not both -- but all I will say is that it seemed obvious that Jay's gang plot and Liva's narrow escapes from death had to (should?) have a connection.
Overall, I enjoyed Out of Control It was a fast-paced piece of brain candy with a surprisingly sweet romance (if you don't mind a little insta-lust), some funny banter between Liva and Jay. If you're ready for a light summer read, definitely check this one out.