Initial reaction: Decent mystery/suspense, but I’ll admit it started off really shaky at first. The story built itself a little better as it went on, and from that point, it held my attention to Riley’s case considering everything wasn’t as it seemed.
This is a YA mystery/suspense novel that grew on me the more I read onward. That’s not to say that it didn’t start off as a bit silly, but it surprised me how it managed to improve over the course of the narrative.
Riley is used to having overprotective parents; they’re not often relenting to allow her to attend school activities or stray too far from home, even in consideration for college request visits. When she, alongside her best friend Shelby, go perusing through family things after Riley’s family’s most recent move, they find a collection of old pictures of Riley…but with another baby’s birth certificate tucked inside.
This has Shelby spouting off all kinds of flippant conspiracy theories about how Riley may have been kidnapped by her parents, but while Riley is dismissive – even annoyed – at Shelby’s suggestions at first, she starts thinking there’s more truth to the matter than she realizes – her parents ARE protective, they SEEM secretive about something, but she can’t figure out what or why. Further, when she starts digging into the origins of the birth certificate, there are more questions it brings up than answers, and a mysterious stranger seems to add to Riley’s concerns that something may be very wrong within her family.
There were definitely moments when I wanted to state the obvious for Riley’s missteps. And I’ll admit I was annoyed by Riley’s naivete and paranoia over certain things, but as the narrative went on, I was genuinely surprised at the revelations – not just when they were revealed but what they entailed. It reminded me of a Lois Duncan novel I read a while back. Once the story hits its stride, it steamrolls a path to the end in a thrilling way. The collective cast of characters left me desiring a little more development, but I liked the quick pacing of the novel and the overarching conflict. It kept me reading through once I hit the truth about Riley’s family.
I’ll admit that another thing that kept me from loving this more was that for the conflict that set up, the ending was just a bit TOO convenient for thread ties. At least they were tied, but I found it a little unbelievable since one part of the major conflict happened in-scene and the other happened off-scene. But for a read of its type, it made for a quick thrill.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Sourcebooks Fire.