With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published On: June 7, 2016
Published By: Hot Key Books
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Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.
As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
When this book was first published it was everywhere. Everyone was talking about it, anticipating it and raving about it - there was a fair amount of hype surrounding it. Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to the hype for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high and because of that I was left a little disappointed. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it was just OK.
Given Jill's injuries and her amnesia surrounding the accident, there is obviously a lot of confusion and mystery regarding what actually happened. Add a very unreliable narrator into the mix and you have a really great combination. The mystery was what kept me turning the pages, particularly as it was never really known what was real and what was not. It definitely kept me on my toes and made for a very quick read.
While receiving part of the story of the accident and the friends time in Italy from an unreliable narrator, part of the story is also told through police interviews transcripts and blog posts. Not only is this a huge bonus for me as I love when the story is told through various medium, it adds to the confusion and mystery as much of this side of the story is very biased. This is very interesting as little pieces of information are uncovered in these sections but the bias, particularly of the blog posts, leads you to question each piece of information. I never knew what to believe.
Though the mystery is the primary element to the story, there is an underlying element of friendship. We have this now apparently very complicated friendship between Jill and Simone but also an incredibly different kind of friendship between Jill and Anna. To me, this really emphasised how different friendships can be and how situations can bring the most unlikely people together. I really enjoyed this aspect and think it was a nice message beneath all of the mystery.
One thing I did find particularly interesting about this book was the lack of romance. Though there is a relationship as part of the story, there is no romance. I rarely read books without an element of romance in them so this made a very nice change for me. I enjoyed the focus remaining on Jill's situation and trying to understand the accident without including a romance to distract from that.
With a mystery like this, the ending and how the mystery is resolved is a crucial factor for me. If I don't like the ending, it often ruins my enjoyment of the book. In this case, I really don't know how I feel about the ending. It was not at all what I was expecting but at the same time it was very shocking. Part of me does like the way things ended, however there is also part of me that finds it a little frustrating.
Overall, this is a decent YA mystery novel but nothing particularly special. I personally don't think there is much in this book that hasn't been done before but, even so, everything was done well. It was an enjoyable, fast-paced read, and if it's your thing you may love it, but for me is was average.