If this book were a movie (the kind you pay full price to see and after doing so are only able to mumble something mildly coherent like, "You just HAVE to see it for your self."), much of my viewing time would've been spent with my hands over my face to hide from the creepy parts (while peaking out through my fingers so as not to miss anything), a hand over my heart to keep it from literally beating out of chest during the intensely romantic parts (the other would be fanning my face) and a hand over my mouth to hide my shock at the ending. (Btw, if this were a movie with a soundtrack, Coldplay's, "Fix You" would be on it.)
This is a MUST read! Just to clarify...when I say it's "creepy", I mean creepy in the best sense of the word, not like evil "creepy" but "creepy" cool, keeping up here? OK, good.
The key players in this book are Mara Dyer and her family which consists of Psychologist Mom, Lawyer Dad, and two of the best brothers a girl could ask for, Daniel is the oldest (I wish Daniel was real & I wish he was my big brother) and Joseph is the youngest. Mara's friends are Rachel (her longtime BFF), Claire (more Rachel's friend & not so much a fan of Mara's), Jude (Claire's brother & Mara's crush), Jaime (he's a good friend to her) and Noah (Yum).
The story begins in Rhode Island where there's been an accident involving Mara, Rachel, Claire and Jude, and she's the sole survivor. Everyone is looking to Mara for answers but she can't give them any because she has no memory of any of it. Another bizarre thing? She's come through the accident without any injuries. In the days and weeks that follow, she tries to recall details about what happened but has no real luck until the nightmares begin and strange things start to happen during the daytime that leave her struggling to decipher between reality and imagination. (Enter the creep factor)
In an effort to help her, the family decides to make a clean break to Florida where she and Daniel start at a new private school, and her father takes over on a high profile murder case. At her new school she hopes to makes a fresh start and leave her past behind her but something won't let that happen. Instead, she meets Jaime, a boy genius who has a penchant for retaliation that involves bio-hazard material of epic proportions, she catches the eye of Noah, the school's #1 hot guy who comes with a rep for being a notorious womanizer, garners the unwanted attention of Anna (Mean Girl extraordinaire) and Ms. Morales aka the Spanish teacher from hell...all on the first day.
Things escalate when the "strange" turns to "creepy" and Mara watches as her world begins to spiral out of control. She knows she's reaching the breaking point not only within herself but with her family as well and she desperately searches for answers only to find help in the most unlikely places, like Noah. On the outside, he's cocky and pretentious but behind that gorgeous, British exterior of his, he's not so bad and he comes to Mara's rescue more than once. (Need to retrieve a Sketchbook anyone?) As she gets to know him more, she sees that, like her, his reputation may not really proceed him and he too is hiding a few secrets. But what they discover about themselves and each other has the potential to change everything, forever.
As Mara begins to face life as she now knows it to be, she realizes the choices others have may not be the same for her. She'll have to decide if protecting those she loves means giving up what she wants the most. Will she choose right? Just when Mara thinks she's make up her mind, once again her world flips upside down leaving both she and the reader gasping.
While I'm partially relieved that this is the "end of volume" because I would most likely have had a heart attack if this was really the end of the story, I want to know NOW what happens! NOW! NOW! NOW! I tell you! :)