Portrayal of mental illness: Superb. Both Jamie and his sister have a lot of issues. These issues (which I can't be more specific about without spoiling things), and the reactions they cause are shown honestly. The honesty doesn't mean clearly - nothing about mental illness is cut and dry. It's complicated, confusing, and changes from person to person and day to day. Seeing Jamie's issues from his perspective and watching his sister change while she grows up from a bubbly, happy girl to a raging anger-management problem - you get to see mental illness from the inside, from within.
Plot and suspense: There are mysteries within mysteries. You'll chase the ends of the question marks inside an ellipses until you're lost in a maze of questions with no way out but to keep reading. All of the confusion and questioning stems from Jamie - he doesn't know himself. He doesn't know his past, and he doesn't know where he's going. But he needs to find out, and his journey is adrenaline-rush exciting. You will be turning the pages as fast as you can; this is the kind of book that you will stay up late to finish.
Characters: Jamie is a mess. He's a likable mess, and an interesting protagonist. However, I didn't love him. He wasn't anything really special. I wanted to know the answers, I wanted to follow Jamie on his search, but I never really *cared* about him all that much. My only complaint about this whole book is simply that - I didn't care enough about Jamie. I didn't quite connect enough with him. Jamie is very different from me, however, in that he tries so hard to please the people around him. Jamie believes it is not the thought that counts, but his actions - and so he lies and acts for his family, friends and teachers.
"My actions send the message that I'm fine, totally fine.
I'm not fine, of course. Not even close."
It takes a lot of strength to do that. An impressive amount of strength. But it takes even more personal strength to be honest with others, to express your honest feelings, and most of all to be honest with yourself. Jamie is trying to get there, he really is.
Verdict: I couldn't read it fast enough. COMPLICIT is a very well-written, spell-binding and suspenseful story. Fans of Andrew Smith's novels, in particular, will really enjoy the narrative style and male perspective.