There was a ton of hype for this book when it first came out, but I ended up glossing it over until I saw it was available for loan from my library as an audiobook. Honestly, listening to this book as an audiobook was by far the best medium to read it – it played like a crime podcast and was definitely one of my favorite thriller books of the year (and it’s possibly one of my favorite audiobooks) .
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.
This book is told through two mediums: the podcast covering the mystery of where Sadie went and the point of view of Sadie herself as she seeks out vengeance for her sister. The podcast included interviews with people Sadie interacted with along her journey, as well as some investigative journalism into her disappearance. Having these side characters recall their interactions with Sadie was a nice contrast to her point of view – it really helped at a richness to the story telling and the plot. The story itself was fantastic – the plot was well paced and had some good twists and turns, most of which I did not see coming. I wasn’t really thrilled about the ending, but in the context of the story it does make sense. It does contain some very dark subject matter, but I felt it was handled well and not used as a gimmicky plot device.
The main two characters of this book are Sadie and West. Sadie is a young woman who disappeared after her sister was murdered. West is a podcast host who is trying to track down what exactly happened to Sadie and where she went. Sadie was a good main character – she was hell bent to complete her mission of getting justice for her sister and was written with a rich and complex emotional state. She’s rageful that her sister was killed and she didn’t have justice, she’s vengeful towards her childhood abuser, and she’s emotionally scarred by the loss of her sister. My only issue with her is that sometimes she seemed to have street smarts and common sense, and then other times she turned around and made the biggest rookie mistakes. Her character in this regard was a bit inconsistent, which didn’t help me get into the book.
West was a pretty basic character – we don’t know a lot about his background, but he does have a good character growth arc as he goes through the motions of trying to find Sadie. In the beginning he is clearly trying to stay as emotionally detached from Sadie’s story as possible, but as he digs deeper and deeper you can feel him getting more and more invested in the case. It’s this character growth that redeems his lack of a backstory for me.
This book almost demands to be listened to as an audiobook. Do yourself a favor and try to listen to it before you read the paper copy – the narration is fantastic and it really gives it a Serial-esque vibe. This was by far the best YA thriller/mystery I’ve read in a long time and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read in those genres. 4/5.