The Holdout- Book Review

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Book Summary: It’s the most sensational case of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune, vanishes on her way home from school, and her teacher, Bobby Nock, a twenty-five-year-old African American man, is the prime suspect. The subsequent trial taps straight into America’s most pressing preoccupations: race, class, sex, law enforcement, and the lurid sins of the rich and famous. It’s an open-and-shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed—until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, convinced of Nock’s innocence, persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that will change all their lives forever.

Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jury, with particular focus on Maya, now a defense attorney herself. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, all evidence points to her as the killer. Now, she must prove her own innocence—by getting to the bottom of a case that is far from closed.

As the present-day murder investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.

Book cover and summary from Amazon: The Holdout on Amazon

3.5 stars

I want to start by saying, I don’t typically read or watch courtroom dramas, I never thought it was something I would enjoy but I really enjoyed reading this book.

I absolutely LOVED the way the author switched back and forth between the trial and ten years later at the reunion and subsequent murder investigation of one of the former jurors. The flashbacks to the trial were from the perspectives of each of the jurors which was a really interesting way to present the trial and what was going through each of their minds during the process.

I also really enjoyed the look into the jury process. I’ve been called for jury duty but have never been selected to sit on a trial and the process and how it was described was fascinating.

The book was well paced and I definitely didn’t feel I was trudging through any parts but there were a few things that sit right and that’s why I didn’t rate this at 4 or 5 stars.

Spoilers below:
Several times during the trial, Maya (the main character) says something to the effect of ‘they’ll never really know’ so when the “big reveal” happened in the last 5 pages or so, it seemed really forced and kind of a let down. I would’ve much preferred it going unsaid.

The other thing that bugged me is how much she was involved in her own investigation despite being told by her boss to do nothing. She knowingly could’ve compromised evidence or witnesses and screwed herself. But I get it, it’s a story and how else would we the readers been privy to the investigation if not through the main character.

With those two little issues aside, this was a very enjoyable read and definitely opened my eyes to a new genre of books that I’ve avoided in the past.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Book Review – Sadie by Courtney Summers

“You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer.” – Sadie

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4.5/5

(Spoiler-free review below)

After the brutal death of her younger sister, Mattie, nineteen year old Sadie sets out on a revenge mission to find and punish the man responsible. The book is told in alternating viewpoints: Sadie on her quest to find her sister’s murderer, and West McCray, a podcaster who is looking into Mattie’s murder and Sadie’s subsequent disappearance a few months later.

Although the premise of this book really intrigued me, I struggled to get into it in the beginning. I would get 10-15 pages in and set it down only to wait a week or two before picking it back up. But once I got past my issues with it, I couldn’t put this book down.

I realized that my main issue getting into the story was the podcast chapters. Taking a sensory rich experience like a podcast, with it’s music, sound effects, and tone of voice, and boiling it down to a transcript lost some of it’s dramatic effect. The podcast chapters helped drive the investigation forward but felt flat to me. It wasn’t until after I finished reading the novel that they released the podcast episodes to stream. (The podcast is called The Girls and is linked below.) Now that they are available, I would love to re-read it and listen to the podcasts instead of reading them. Being able to listen to these chapters while I read is an enriched experience that I’m really looking forward to.

The Girls Podcast

Despite my minor issue with the podcast chapters, I absolutely LOVED this story. The characters were broken and flawed and driven, just how I like my characters to be. I was surprised to find out it’s considered a YA (Young Adult) novel due to some heavy issues that get covered; if you’re looking at this for younger readers, read it yourself first or read some spoilers to decide if it’s right for you.

I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy from Wednesday Books. Along with the book, they occasionally sent additional promotional material to keep me engaged with the story. I received a sample menu from Ray’s Diner and a few polaroid-esque photos, which made handy bookmarks. These additional promotional materials really helped me sink into the story.

Overall, Sadie is a great read and a well paced mystery novel.

Buy Sadie on Amazon