My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Argh, this hurts to write. You know, despite my criticisms of it in some modes, I actually did like Anne Cassidy’s first book in this series, “Dead Time”. Rose was a flawed protagonist in that, but at least she owned up to where she was wrong and the cases and mysterious elements of the murders in that were interesting.
This book? I can’t even begin to note how tough it was to slog through 2/3 of this book with very sloppy prose, lack of an engaging mystery, Rose being utterly insufferable, and really just lacking any kind of collective spark that could carry it. What makes it worse is that the story did have a few moments where the narrative worked in scene, but the cramping of details at the end without any build-up really didn’t do wonders for this mystery at all.
I’m very disappointed in this, and I really dislike saying that, but I hope my review can expound a little more as to why I felt this way.
Despite the fact that I really like Anne Cassidy’s writing style, and that I enjoyed “Dead Time” well enough in light of its flaws, “Killing Rachel” was a disappointment on so many levels. I do have to ask what happened here in comparison to the first book, because while I can say that Rose was never an easy protagonist to like, she became full on insufferable in this book. Not to mention the structuring and progression of this story was rather sloppy through the entire work.
The long and short of this book revolved around Rose combing through her previous relationship and falling out with former classmate Rachel, who in the beginning of the book tries to contact Rose begging her for help through phone calls and messages. Guess what happens to Rachel after not long?
*points to title – obvious spoiler is obvious*
It’s so infuriating because the book starts off with Rose denouncing the girl because of the way she was “bullied” (but not, according to Rose) by Rachel. Then she thought Rachel was obsessive and crazy with the constant messages asking for Rose’s aid. However, when Rachel *dies*, Rose suddenly feels as if she’s suffered a great loss.
Then the narrative goes into a long, meandering account of Rose’s relationship with Rachel, trying to establish character backstory when playing between current events. Surprisingly, the side characters in this book (Joshua, Rose’s grandmother, Skeggsie) weren’t really a significant presence in this novel as they were in the former. Joshua had a role, but it was more on the level of Rose lusting after him and then one key scene when he gets mixed up in the crossfire of events. That one scene was probably better written than most of the novel, because the stakes and tension were actually well done.
I’ll admit that by the time Rachel’s murder was resolved, I didn’t feel a lick of investment in the overarching narrative. There were so many opportunities to flesh, develop, and bring forth an intriguing mystery here, but the presentation, characterizations, and nonsensical progression pretty much soured the experience. I don’t know if I’ll continue with the series, but I hope if it continues from this point, that it improves upon it’s lacking areas. The first book was decent with notable flaws, but this book dropped the ball.
Overall score: 1/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Walker Childrens.