Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel

Ages ago, I read the Evermore series by Alyson Noel. I remember them being very mediocre YA books that went steadily downhill the further you went into the series. Since it’s been a few years (and this book was available at my library), I decided to give this author another shot. Unfortunately, Saving Zoe was even worse than I remember her other books being – it feels like a half-assed attempt to cash in on the YA contemporary genre boom.

It’s been one year since the brutal murder of her older sister, Zoë, and fifteen-year-old Echo is still reeling from the aftermath. Her parents are numb, her friends are moving on, and the awkward start to her freshman year proves she’ll never live up to her sister’s memory. Until Zoë’s former boyfriend Marc shows up with Zoë diary.

At first Echo’s not interested, doubting there’s anything in there she doesn’t already know. But when curiosity prevails, she starts reading, becoming so immersed in her sister’s secret world, their lives begin to blur, forcing Echo to uncover the truth behind Zoë’s life so that she can start to rebuild her own.

Prepare to laugh your heart out and cry your eyes out in this highly addictive tale as Alyson Noël tackles the complicated relationship between two sisters and shows how the bond can endure long after one of them is gone.

Echo (the narrator) is a fundamentally whiny Mary-Sue of a character. She went through a terrible tragedy, but instead of being caught up in her sorrow or denial over her sister’s murder, she’s just overly self-righteous and under-characterized. Outside of her believing that she’s never wrong and knows what’s best for everyone (including the adults in her life, a pet peeve of mine), she’s very milk toast. She makes consistently bad choices and never grows as a character. Also, she consistently treats her friends like dirt and refuses to acknowledge or apologize about it. My biggest pet peeve with her was that she was ultimately given an insight into her dead sister’s life, and she never really grew closer to her or tried to understand her sister’s point of view. She repeatedly said she didn’t judge Zoe for her choices, but then she would turn around and do just that.

Zoe is the only semi-interesting character in this book. She’s desperate to make it as a famous person, which is ultimately her downfall. She’s still not a great character – everything we learn about her comes from her diary, which felt incredibly artificial. Reading the passages from her diary, it was hard to believe that this was supposed to be written by a teenager – the writing style made it feel like it was written by an adult who was very out of touch with the thoughts and emotional capacities of young adults. As for the side characters, they were more or less just names on paper with a handful of lines of dialogue – no real contributions to the plot to speak of.

There wasn’t a lot of plot in this book – the main story was thin at best and there was almost a complete lack of subplots. In a book like this, I would expect there to be much more of a social thriller tone to it. I would have hoped for more of an exploration of the people who lead Zoe to ultimately decide to meet up with a murderer from the internet. There was barely any social exploration and the entire book felt very by-the-numbers and boring.

There was nothing redeeming about this book. Between it’s terrible characters, sluggish and predictable plot, and the bust of an ending, I honestly can’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re looking for a good thriller/mystery in the YA contemporary genre, check out Sadie by Courtney Summers. After this train-wreck, I definitely won’t be reading any more of Alyson Noel’s books. 1/5.

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