by Anne Heltzel
Published on June 2, 2015
by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own.
My take: Overall, I felt pretty indifferent to this book, and only kept reading because some Goodreads reviews suggested there was a big cliffhanger ending. (This book seems to be the first half of a duology.) As Charlie, Presumed Dead begins, two girls meet at the funeral of their boyfriend -- yes, that's boyfriend (singular) and the girls didn't know about each other. The narrative switches between three POV's -- the girlfriends' and Charlie's. Because I didn't really connect to any of the characters, I didn't care very much how the girls ended up with Charlie, who he liked better, or what happened to him. Yes, there's a development at the end that is pretty dramatic, and it's unclear as to whether that's how the book ends, or whether there will be more to the story.
Even though I felt pretty "meh" about this, I do think there will be readers who will enjoy it. I didn't think it was as compelling as Dangerous Girls, but if you loved that and are looking for something similar, you might want to give this a try.
by Emily Adrian
To be published on June 2, 2015
by Dial Books
Synopsis from Goodreads: When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca. Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
My take: At first I wasn't sure about Like It Never Happened. It has a subtlety -- of synopsis, of plot, of themes, and even title -- that doesn't do it many favors in a crowded YA field in which successful books need some sort of tantalizing hook. The story has a bunch of lead-up -- backstory on the "Essential Five" group of friends and an interlude about two of them being counselors at summer camp -- that seemed a bit unnecessary to me. But when the book got going, I quite liked it. The story does a nice job of exploring group dynamics among a fivesome of friends involved in high school theater and their young drama teacher. Parts are cast, parts are played (on-stage and off), rumors are spread, and everything starts to unravel. I recently re-watched Election (the movie based on the book by Tom Perrotta) and Like It Never Happened reminded me a bit of the high school machinations in that. I was also happy that the play the kids are putting on is not actually The Crucible (predictable!) but A Streetcar Named Desire (interesting!)
Overall, I feel like this book will get overlooked, but if you've enjoyed books about the destructive power of rumors -- book like Good Girls by Laura Ruby or If I Lie by Corinne Jackson, I urge you to try this!
by Gretchen McNeil
To be published on June 16, 2015
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: The members of Don’t Get Mad aren’t just mad anymore . . . they’re afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree stuck in juvie, it’s up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge. The girls desperately try to discover the killer’s identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, Bree is under house arrest, and Olivia’s mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying.
My take: I thought that Get Even, the first book in this series, was fun but a little flimsy, and I liked Get Dirty much more. With two of their most useful Scooby gang members down for the count, the two girls that I thought least likely to unravel a mystery had to do just that, which was fun and unexpected. This duology definitely has things going for it: a page-turning plot with a lot of twists and turns, and some great humor. While I still found the characters a bit superficial, I also admit that it's very hard to balance this much plot with an equal amount of character development. I think these two books probably could have been condensed into one, and wish I'd read them back to back. If you're looking for a fun summer read in the vein of Pretty Little Liars, definitely grab these two and have yourself a binge read!