Complicit is one of those dark tales that grabs you and forces you to turn the page even though you might be afraid. It is a fantastic read that just wont let you go!
From page one you are immersed in a world where you are suspicious of everything, every action, every tiny piece of information. It makes you believe something is true, throws it out the window, twists it, and drags it back inside.
Jamie not only has to deal with typical high school travails also has a dark not so secret skeleton in his family closet. His sister Catie burned down a horse barn and was then sentenced to 30 months in juvenile detention. From that point on Jamie's life went downhill. Everyone seems to have deserted him. He becomes an outcast- much like his sister.
But just when Jamie thinks nothing can get worse, Catie gets released and starts to contact him. Her calls are anything but friendly. Reacting to trauma triggers, Jamie mercifully and periodically loses memory and control of his hands. It is utterly amazing to see how Kuehn takes all the tiny bits and pieces and strings it together in a brilliant thrill ride. It is hard not to share all the wonderful dark pieces of this story without giving too much away.
Complicit is an emotional rollercoaster. It is one you wont forget. Recommended to any high school student or YA reader who loves a dark thrill ride that will leave the reader guessing till the end.
Unfortunately, I can’t really talk about any aspects of this novel without completely giving it away, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, unreliable narrators, weird characters, this book is for you.
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.