Series: Point Last Seen #1
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 263 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.
This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.
The only word I can think to use when describing this book is disappointing. I requested this book because I thought it had a ton of potential. Told from three different third person perspectives, we could truly uncover a murder mystery while looking at events through a bunch of different POVs a la the movie VANTAGE POINT. However, the entire book fell flat to me.
The third person narration seemed to hinder me from connecting to any of the three main characters. All of their back-stories were uninteresting to me, despite the fact that they could potentially truly pull at my heartstrings. Alexis doesn't know her Dad and lives with her bipolar and seemingly schizophrenic and God-obsessed mother. At one point, her mother goes missing, but it serves no purpose to the plot and then eventually all is conveniently fixed. Nick is trying desperately to prove himself and be brave like his father who died in Iraq when Nick was just four. He's almost obsessive about his father's death, and this hindered me from connecting to him. Perhaps the only person I felt any emotion towards was Ruby and, really, I just pitied her. I felt bad that she was so desperate for friends and that she entertained herself by word-vomiting about anything she could possibly think of because she didn't know any other way to have a conversation. But, really, that's all I felt for her, which is frustrating because she was my favorite character in the entire book. This book didn't elicit any emotion from me, but that can also be attributed to the fast pacing of the novel that allowed me to finish it in less then two hours.
However, I got to hand it to our three main characters. They were ten times more intelligent then the detective put on this case. He would not listen to reason, he was constantly looking for the easy way out, and he didn't really use his head. He works in a big city, there's bound to be murders, but, dang, is he bad at his job. A bunch of kids bested him at his own job. I felt as if this entire police department was incompetent and those making up the volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) team were better equipped to logically handle this situation...all because one of them watched a lot of true crime television and constantly googled things having to do with murder.
But perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this novel, for me, was the fact that I figured out who the killer was in the first 50 pages. Add another 100 pages in and I was completely convinced that my hunch was correct. Sure, there was an obvious fake that was falsely arrested, but things could never be that easy. The point of a murder mystery is to be kept in suspense so that when things come to light, your heart starts beating fast. Instead, I found myself rolling my eyes often. I figured it out from the very beginning, which made this book an overall frustrating reading experience for me.
The eventual climax of the book was done incredibly fast, though this has to do with the author's to-the-point writing style, which I know some readers will appreciate. Also, the last line of this novel was probably one of the cheesiest things I have ever read. As a romance lover, I have to say this is one of the rare instances where I wish there was no romantic sub-plot because it only detracted from the overall story.
I've never read a mystery by April Henry before, but I know she is very good at what she does. She is a New York Times mystery/thriller best-seller! But this book just didn't wow me. I would recommend picking it up from your local library if you're curious. It's good for readers who want a quick read that can be finished within three hours with a unique murderer. This book and I...we just weren't meant to be, no matter how much I wish we were.
There are several positive reviews for this book out there as well. If you want a fresh perspective, check out Novel Novice's review here.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any sort in exchange for my honest review.