Half In Love With Death
As if moving to a different state wasn't bad enough, Caroline's older sister Jess is missing. She's run away before but Caroline can't help but think this time is different. No one, including her parents, take Caroline's concerns that Jess might have runaway to California seriously. The only one who does is Jess's boyfriend Tony. Problem is everyone warns her to stay away from him as he's trouble. Caroline finds herself swayed by the seductive charisma of Tony even when her gut tells her he's lying.
What worked: The 60s setting is a great backdrop for this psychological thriller. The Arizona desert plays a part in the mood of this story too. The stark desert and the heat boil to a frightening conclusion that forces Caroline to confront her biggest fear.
Caroline loves the Beatles and wants to have a boyfriend. She has been crushing on hot Tony and has entertained fantasies of him. When he starts to give her attention? Caroline loves it even when there are subtle and not too subtle clues that her parents and others might be right to not trust him.
Tony is very charismatic and knows how to get girls and others to follow him. There is one scene, where he tells Caroline he can dye her hair blonde, that is very creepy. His girl 'friends' all give off an almost-Manson like vibe. All think that Tony loves them and that they're the special one. I liked how Ross drops subtle hints throughout the novel that not all is what it seems with Tony. What fifteen-year-old girl wouldn't love the attention of a very hot guy?
Rumors fly around in this small knit town. It's hard to believe who is telling the truth right down to some of the frenemies who don't seem to really be there for her. In one case it's more a case of the whole 'don't date a former boyfriend of a friend' scenario. Billy is a guy more Caroline's age that she secretly likes but after he kisses her? He ends up going back to her friend May. I do think this is the catapult that has Caroline give in to Tony's charm and disregard everyone else's concerns.
I did want to know more about Jess and was a little disappointed at the conclusion. No, I won't reveal more as that would be a spoiler though I do admit, the final reveal is chilling.
Mesmerizing coming of age psychological thriller where readers wonder what is real and what is a lie.