Remember a few years ago when everyone was reading Anna and the French Kiss and thought Stephanie Perkins was an adorable, fresh voice in YA? Well, she’s back. And this time, she combines a cute teen romance with a Scream-esque horror novel, and the results are mostly great.
It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.
Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.
Makani Young’s parents (who are THE WORST) ship her off to Nebraska to live with her very strict, yet very fair, grandmother. Something awful happened in Hawaii that led to this move, and it takes a while to get the details, but Makani will never forgive herself, and is in constant fear that her new friends in Nebraska will find out about her past.
Makani is also dealing with a potential new love interest, the very strange Ollie, who may have pink hair and facial piercings, but is still a thoughtful and smart young man that her grandmother approves of.
Meanwhile, someone in their small town is murdering their classmates, and of course, its only a matter of time before Makani and her friends are the targets of this crazed lunatic.
Trigger warning: look, these murders are horrific. Stephanie Perkins really makes you feel terrible for the victims, by having them as the main focus of their chapters (taking the spotlight off of Makani for a few pages). I don’t love reading about terrible things happening to good people, and these chapters are tough to take.
However, the romance is cute. Makani’s friends are cute. Her grandmother is cute.
What doesn’t work AT ALL is Makani’s secret. I couldn’t believe how lame it was when it was finally revealed, and couldn’t believe anyone was supposed to care at all about it. Sure, maybe Makani would have needed to switch schools, but moving to Nebraska and changing her name? Unnecessary. And nobody would care at all about what she did. Really. I didn’t. I seriously don’t even know what Perkins was thinking with this.
***If anyone out there reads this book, please let me know your thoughts on this. I still can’t get over it.***
But the rest is pretty good. The horror side of the book is filled with suspense, and we learn early on that we can’t trust Perkins to keep any characters we like safe from the murderer. And the romance is realistic and pleasant.
If it weren’t for the stupid flashback to Hawaii, I’d go with 4 stars. Makani’s past takes a whole star away.