Fifteen year old Katelyn is found dead in the bathtub on Christmas evening, a still-plugged-in espresso machine lying in the water with her. The circumstances surrounding her death are up for speculation, whether it was an accident, a suicide or a homicide. Hayley and Taylor, twins that possess a psychic ability of sorts, feel strongly that their old friend didn’t kill herself and set about trying to solve this mystery.
I often give many books a chance and I wanted to like this one so much. I love a good creepy mystery with a paranormal twist, even with the true crime factor to it as well, but this one just fell flat. The characters were not very well developed and there seemed to be so much detail on irrelevant things, like tangents that went into so much detail about how one guy loved his wife’s planked salmon. All the people in the town of Port Gamble felt like caricatures, painting the teenagers in such a superficial and frivolous way.
Like Kevin Ryan, the twins’ father in the story, Olsen is also a true crime writer and father of twins. Perhaps he was pulling from his own experiences in writing Envy (a true-crime writer, writing about a true-crime writer, writing about true crime!) I haven’t read Olsen’s other novels, but this being his first YA novel, I hate to say that it really shows. At first, I commended him on the specific detail and brand name references that he worked into the story as if to entice the younger generation, but what lost me was the attempt at teen text speak. The texting seemed so excessively truncated for the sake of making it look like how teenagers would text.
MIGHT NOT ACT BUT I AM. DON’T DO WELL.
MAKS MY IZ PUFF ^ N L%K EVN SMALR THN THYRE.
Actual quote. One of many similarly written “texts” which were painful to decipher.
The twin psychicness was bizarrely established and really vague in how it played out. Without giving anything away, the whole resolution of all the loose ends seemed unexplained and quickly brushed under the rug. Oh, that’s a problem? Nope, not anymore. (For a spoilery moment, check out my Goodreads review behind the spoiler tag)
While the main plot was “pulled from the headlines” of an actual story, the main redeeming quality that kept me reading was solving the mystery more than the paranormal factor. I liked that Olsen tackled the very timely topic of cyber-bullying and how twisted and cowardly that can be. I commend him for showing the outcomes of what those actions could lead to but I definitely felt that this could have been an even better book without the paranormal twist, focusing just on the cyber-bullying.