“Deadly Little Secret” is one of those books that I think had some great ideas linked within it, but suffers from a lackluster execution lacking believable construction. For a novel involving a potential stalker and an accused murderer attending the same school as the protagonist, I thought the stakes would be a lot higher than they were. Nothing about the tone of the novel ever felt like it had the urgency that it purported to have, instead focusing on a romance that never really kicked up any dust for me. Before I go into more detail about the execution of the novel, I’ll give a brief summary.
Camelia is a typical teenage girl who crosses Ben’s path when he saves her from an oncoming car, but she realizes that something isn’t right about him with the way he touches her. Cue to sometime later when Ben ends up being the new guy at her school…among having the reputation of being an accused murderer. It’s even more strange when Camelia starts getting weird phone calls, packages, and messages in light of Ben’s arrival (and it’s inferred that the stalker perspective between chapters is supposed to be the “true” stalker.
My reaction: never believed it for a minute – it was too lightweight and didn’t have as much conviction for the novel it wanted to be. Granted, I do see similarities between this and the Twilight franchise down to the execution of some of the same plot concepts (no vampires involved though), but that’s not what bothered me about this novel. It’s a murder mystery with elements of the supernatural. Sure, Ben’s ability seems interesting (once it’s actually revealed beyond a sort of creepy touching measure), the stalker/possible murderer aspect seemed harrowing (in theory, but didn’t come across that way at all), but the conviction was lacking AND the romantic element seemed so forced that I think it unraveled a lot of the tension, sending mixed messages. Not to mention that none of the characters beyond the main ones ever really stood out to me as distinct enough to remember (not even Camelia’s friends, who I think were intended for comic relief, but while I found some of the interactions funny, I never really got more than just background noise from them).
I also knew who the real stalker was for quite some time before the novel ended, so it didn’t have any elements of surprise for me.
Overall, I’m not sure if I’ll continue this series. I’m not going to say that there isn’t an audience for this series, because I think some who like a lightweight murder mystery with supernatural elements and romance might think this novel is okay, but for me, it could’ve been so much more than what it was, and I didn’t really feel like any of it resonated with me.
Note: I received this as an ARC from Netgalley from the publisher Disney-Hyperion