(Spoiler free review below)
Oh did I enjoy this book. From concept to execution, from setting to characters, from the first word to the last. I gobbled this book up in a day and a half of nonstop reading.
Gretchen McNeil paints a bleak, voyeuristic vision in #MurderTrending where everyone convicted of a capital murder are sentenced to Alcatraz 2.0, an island where they live, work, and are hunted by government sanctioned serial killers. Every inch of the island is covered in cameras which stream non-stop to an app where people across the country watch, chat, vote, and enjoy everything that happens on the island.
Each of the Painiacs (the term coined for the group of killers) has a unique method of murder and Gretchen manages to write them so well that just by describing a location, you know which murderer is about to enter.
The main character, Dee, is wrongly accused of murdering her sister and sentenced to Alcatraz. After surviving her first encounter with the Painiacs, she is given a house and a job to fill her days while waiting her brutal execution. She meets other inhabitants of the island, a ragtag group of characters that are written wonderfully by Gretchen McNeil.
The reason it’s not 5 stars is it felt too “young” at times. I understand it’s a young adult novel, but I’ve read plenty of YA stuff that never made me roll my eyes. (The whole Disney wardrobe angle, I’m talking about you)
This book isn’t a literary masterpiece, but it is a very fun entertaining read and sometimes that’s all you need.
“You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer.” – Sadie
(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