Title: Find Me
Author: Romily Bernard
Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: Publisher-provided ARC via Edelweiss
Synopsis: “Find Me.” These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found…dead.
Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target. Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick.
Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?
Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.
But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.
Because it just got personal.
☆: 4/5 stars – The love interest should get out and let this book be awesome
Wow. Seriously, wow. Not many books get me to stay up late at night to finish it because I enjoy my sleep far too much, but Find Me did it and it was worth every yawn, drowsy moment, and general sluggish feeling the next day. This may be one of the most entertaining YA debuts I’ve read this year!
Early on, mentions of the much-feared Blue Screen of Death, a twist on the infamous Lethal Weapon quote of getting too old for this shit, and more made me giggle, but Find Me is anything but a comedy. Moments like those are sweet little beacons of light in an otherwise dark novel. The reason Tessa didn’t go to the police about her rape (she was afraid they’d say she deserved it) is all too real. That is one of many factors that results in so few people reporting it when someone sexually assaults them.
Short chapters, tight plotting, and tense scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat make this short little novel (288 pages is very short by my standards) go by very quickly and it makes you wish this book were longer even though you know it’ll drag on if it gets any longer. The suspense kicks in from the very first chapter, which has Wick keeping an eye on the possibly-dirty cop hanging around outside her house, and it never lets up. We go all the way from the upper-class suburbs to the bad neighborhood where Wick lived before her mother committed suicide and her meth-making father went on the run, and it’s always a fun ride wherever we’re going. The twist and reveal? Genuinely caught me off guard, though my suspicions grew the closer the novel’s end came.
Wick might be one of my favorite female leads as of late too! Her hacking know-how is just enough to show us she knows what she’s doing but not enough to provide an evil villain’s blueprint or go right over our heads. Where she’s the one with the trust issues and bad attitude most of the time, her sweet little sister Lily is the opposite. Can I have a stuffed Lily, please? Fictional character or no, she’s pretty huggable.
The title is referenced multiple times throughout the book in a desperate repetition, but there’s one phrase I associate with the novel even more than the title: it’s not that easy. The “it” can be anything from living on after enduring an abusive relationship to trusting good people when you grew up learning trust is a bad thing to escaping the past you grew up with. Either way, these characters have it anything but easy.
One thing that is actually that easy in this book? Tying up plot lines. In fact, they all seem to tie up a little too neatly, some to the point of contrived. Just before Wick can question Tessa’s little sister Tally about an important passage that could have revealed the mystery man? Tessa’s parents get divorced and Tally leaves with the mother. That’s the end of that and it’s pretty clear that had Tally stayed, this book would have been over sooner. The epilogue in particular is all about tying up loose ends in such an overly neat fashion that it clashes with the rest of the novel.
Then there’s the love interest Griff. There’s a difference between being a douchebag and not being a nice guy. A guy who blackmails Wick into kissing him by withholding info on who’s threatening her and her sister? Um, NO. No swoons because that’s waaaaaaaay into douchebag territory. Their relationship didn’t feel developed enough in the first place and his blackmail soured my opinion of him for the rest of the book. He’s also got a habit of being a creep, but Wick says the creepy things he does like watching her sleep isn’t creepy just because it’s him. Um, no, still creepy. He must have acquired his creepiness in the three years he spent crushing on Wick without doing anything.
In general, Wick didn’t need that romance. She was doing just find rocking out and taking names all on her own. A strong friendship made over similar backgrounds that one escaped and one is still stuck in would have been perfect, especially for giving Griff the motivation to do what he does for Wick. Another thing the novel needed less of was the mean girl drama with Jenna. Making her someone who likes telling people to throw people in Dumpsters and fakes anguish over her best friend’s death didn’t help the novel at all. What plot-sanctioned reason was there for her to fake sadness over Tessa’s death?
There’s much more good than bad in this novel despite how much space it took me to talk out my criticisms. They need a lot more words to explain why they hurt the novel, you know? Communicating how suspenseful and fun this is makes for hard work too, so go check out the first three chapters on the author’s website and see what I mean. Desperate Google searching at one in the morning told me Bernard is working on a second book. Whether it’s related to Wick or something completely new, I don’t care because I just want more of this woman’s magic words.