Priceless (Perilous Book 3)
When a series of weird, innocuous notes begin to show up at her house and in her locker, Jaci assumes her brother is playing jokes on her. But as the notes grow more sinister, she begins to question their origin.
By the time she suspects that her previous kidnappers are involved, too much is at stake to tackle this problem on her own.
Somehow Jaci must avoid capture without involving her family or endangering her friends.
A highly enjoyable mystery thriller...
Priceless by Tamara Hart Heiner
Teenager, Jaci, has remained socially isolated since she and three others were kidnapped. Just as Jaci feels able to move on, strange things begin to happen. Weird notes are left in her books and she receives texts which dredge up the worst of her traumatic memories. Why does this feel so familiar? And who can she trust?
Jaci’s traumatized past is totally believable. She is a social pariah of her own making, anxious, careful, and very conscientious about where she goes and with whom. Her old fears and how this affects her every decision is so authentic. Early in the book, Jaci finds the strength to snap herself out of her numb existence. This, combined with her general intelligence and smart choices, makes her a very likeable character. Considering she is intelligent, it is hard to figure out why Jaci did not immediately tell her mother or the police when she starts receiving odd messages, and why she continues to keep a multitude of other secrets along the way. However the main mystery is too tantalizing to resist continuing on, and her overall character – especially the fact she is a misfit – is solid.
A strength of this tale is we’re never sure who to trust. Some characters we dislike, instantly. Others, we switch between trusting and not. Some we love and then slowly begin to question. This element of the story keeps the reader engaged in guessing who the real villain is.
Set in Idaho, the world-building is crystal clear. We get an easy visual of a high school, plantation-like houses, and a moderate town population. Of particular enjoyment are the snippets of Spanish dialogue dotted throughout.
Tamara Hart Heiner knows what she’s doing. From the first chapter, you feel safe in her author hands. She conveys the perfect level of frustration in her plot and character relationships to spur the reader on. The pace rises and falls well. The authors skill is shown in how easily and gradually she deals out the various clues and answers to questions raised along the way. It ensures the reader will stay hooked.
The level of convenience in the story is one of my only quibbles. As noted above, with Jaci not going to her mother, or the police with the messages. And also, with the amount of times Jaci couldn’t talk to people because she had somewhere to be, or was late for class. More than once these scenes came across as devices contrived to carry the plot and subplots over until the right moment, rather than feeling like Jaci truly didn’t have time to talk. There were also a couple of inaccuracies with the injuries in the book which were only noticeable because of my health profession background, but unfortunately due to that background, I could not believe them; Unless you have a similar background, I doubt these two instances will interrupt your reading at all!
Priceless is fine for ages thirteen and up. It has very mild sexual content and mild language, too. At the same time, it feels ‘real’ for that age group. You know how some young adult books have a totally unrealistic angelic feel to them? Not this one. The author balances this aspect well, not shying away from touchy subjects, but handling them in a way appropriate for early teen readers.
A highly enjoyable mystery thriller for ages thirteen and up. Engaging plot line, character interactions, romances, and dialogue.
‘“That’s not even good for you, you know,” Jaci said around a mouth full of food.
“Better than what you’re eating. I wouldn’t be able to fit into these jeans after two bites of that.”
“Get bigger jeans,” Jaci said.’