It sounds simple when you describe the beginning of it all to someone: one dead girl, one missing woman, and one man chasing down the sisters' story. In execution, podcaster West's investigation of Mattie Southern's murder and Sadie Hunter's disappearance absolutely isn't. Sadie is a novel of creeping realizations and this slow bloom reveals more secrets with every petal. Dread the depth of your average lake deepens into an ocean as the pages fly by, the tension driven well by the alternation of Sadie's own narration with podcast transcripts.
One such chilling realization: Sadie and West are months apart from one another, leaving you unsure how things will turn out for either character.
When Sadie speaks for herself in her chapters, her fury is palpable. As she lets down her guard and allows readers to find out what happened to her and Mattie, that fury becomes contagious. Traveling across the United States to murder a man is a terrifying extreme for retaliation, but once you're in on her pain, you get why she put her moral compass away. To say the least, Sadie and Mattie never got a fair shake from life.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
This may be a book for a very specific kind of reader, though? If you fell in love with long-form investigative media like Making a Murderer and Serial, Sadie hits that spot just right because that's what the podcast West works for is doing with Sadie's story. That? Is not me at all. For my tastes, think My Favorite Murder, True Crime Garage, shows ranging from Forensic Files to Investigation Discovery trash. Y'know, people chattering at one another about crimes and short-form specials. If you've got the same preferences I do, give the full cast-recorded first episode of Sadie's companion podcast The Girls a listen. It may help you make a decision!
And those legendarily ambiguous endings characteristic of a Courtney Summers book? Oh man, you've got one in full force, but the ending is possibly too open this time. Without giving anything away, readers are almost certain to drift toward one of three endings: the optimistic, the tempered optimistic, and the pessimistic. It's the kind of ending that's intended to be unsatisfactory but is unsatisfactory in its execution, if that makes sense.
Whether it's to your tastes or not, Sadie is a YA novel like you've never read before and it'll be a while before any YA novel can even hope to compare. If you haven't already read Summers's other books, do iiiiiiiiiiiiiit. DO IT. Her backlist us full of brilliant books, my favorites being This Is Not a Test and All the Rage. I've got a feeling many, many people are about to discover one of the best authors currently producing YA novels.