I have mixed feelings about this novel – I really liked the story. There’s something about a good murder mystery that keeps you gripped to the page, and combined with my favourite genre of YA fiction, it was going to be a winner.
The characters were really interesting – they covered a wide range of the social spectrum, and were each shown to be vulnerable to the reader. This made them seem more interesting as characters, especially from the various complications they faced. There was something about each of the characters that would appeal to everyone, rather than just have a story about five popular rich girls which I especially wouldn’t have been able to identify with.
What made their stories more compelling was each of them had a reason to not like the Nolan character who ended up dead at the end of the first chapter. Sara Shepard manages to paint suspicion over all five girls, dripping clues as to what actually happened in the first chapter and in the events leading up to it throughout the entire story.
Shepard entertains the whole idea of is a murder morally justified if the murderer had a reason to commit it in the first place? Shepard does this through referencing Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None‘. This was a nice touch to the narrative, but was a bit confused by Shepard having already revealed that the five girls only pulled a prank, so didn’t really have the full effect Shepard was going for.
What really annoyed me was as I neared the last few pages, it was very obvious the narrative wasn’t going to be resolved in this novel. I’ve got nothing against leaving your readers on a cliffhanger, especially if you’ve got a juicy way to pull the reader into another novel – but this didn’t feel like a cliffhanger. Shepard didn’t finish her story in this novel, and tacked on a finish that didn’t feel like a complete end to the story. This really annoyed me because Shepard could have done something really beautiful to finish off this novel, and instead the ending that wasn’t an ending just felt lazy.
I was thoroughly enjoying the novel right up until the ending. This lazy finish really ruined the novel for me, as Shepard had put in too many plot points to have been wholly resolved in the last few pages. If Shepard had made the novel a little longer to show a perfect finish to each girls’ stories, she could have left a cliffhanger out there as a hook for the next novel. Instead, this felt like a cheap end to the novel, as I had been completely enveloped in the girls’ narratives. I would give it a 4/5, as the ending completely ruined the 5/5 I was going to give it.