Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.
And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.
The book is told through interspersed police investigations and primarily with the first person as Victoria relates all the events around Z and their relationship to Andrew. At the beginning, I found this a little awkward, but it quickly grew on me and I really enjoyed the style- it swept me up in the story, almost like I was a part of it. I really liked Vic, she seems like your typical shy, anxious teenager. Her POV was amazing. The romance between her and Z and her and Andrew felt very real/normal teenage angst but exacerbated by her anxiety.
There is a huge twist at the end- I had guessed at maybe parts of it, but not at the whole thing. Looking back, you can definitely find hints of it all, which makes it pretty chilling. It was masterfully done and took me completely by surprise. I am still in awe of this work- so dark and so thought-provoking. It's an incredible read; I am sure I will be thinking about it for a long time to come.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Victoria has anxiety, is a bit of a loner and attends St. Ann's school. As a new student, she doesn't have many friends, but she's happy to have her sweet, agoraphobic boyfriend Andrew in her life. She's fairly satisfied with her seemingly uneventful life when Zachary, called 'Z', arrives at St. Ann's and find himself in the spotlight. Everybody likes Z, and to Victoria's surprise, they become friends.
Friendship quickly turns into obsession and infatuation, eventually going sour. Manipulation and mind games accompany rumors and rising tensions, until the unthinkable happens.
This is a story about murder and obsession, which is right up my alley. When I saw this on Netgalley I requested a copy and I was thrilled to find that I had been selected to read and review this book! I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity because this has become yet another book on my ever-growing "favourites" list.
First, there is the writing style and tone. While the first part of the book isn't exactly filled with death and darkness and all that good stuff, there is definitely a grim undertone behind every word. I could tell that things were going to get incredibly ugly later on in the book and this kept me reading because I just had to know what would happen. I haven't read many books with this kind of writing style but this one had me on the edge of my seat from the very start. Mixed within Victoria's narration are news reports, cell phone records and other clues about the murder which added to the mysterious feel of the book overall.
Then there are the characters. Victoria with her anxiety and love for her boyfriend, and later her obsession with Z, was the main character and narrator. I have mixed feelings about her, as I connected with her over her anxiety and her love for those close to her, but she did things that made me so angry! Her careless betrayals and reckless actions cost her a lot within her own relationships and negatively affected others. While I was often disappointed with her, I feel that her flaws and indiscretions were important characterization and made her more interesting as a character.
Then there was Z. He's mysterious and secretive, yet friendly, and because of this people are drawn to him. At first I didn't really understand his appeal but as I read on it was as if I felt his presence in the same way that the characters did, and that I better understood the way he was perceived by others. Along with the rumors surrounding him, it makes sense that he'd be popular and even sought after by other students at St. Ann's. He was nearly the opposite of Victoria in this way. As with Victoria, he definitely had his flaws and he often made me disappointed or even angry. However, I appreciated his flaws because, along with his secrets, it made him seem more real or believable.
Andrew, Victoria's boyfriend, was my favourite character. I liked him because he was sweet, forgiving, and because I connected with a lot of his experiences. Unfortunately he was a bit too meek and let others hurt him, which added to the emotional aspect of the novel. His relationship with Victoria was put under a lot of strain, and she treated him less than nicely a few times, but he seemed to keep it together which I found admirable. Between Victoria and Andrew, I was happy to see some representation of anxiety disorders in YA fiction.
Considering the ending, I can say that I was absolutely shocked. With other books I can often guess what's going to happen and be at least partly right, but besides knowing that there was going to be a murder, I was completely wrong with my guesses. The ending was simultaneously emotional and terrifying, and was one of the best conclusions to a YA novel I have read in a long time. I had to go back and re-read a few pages to really grasp what was going on. I feel like twist endings can sometimes be predictable themselves, but not this one.
This is a very dark book with memorable characters and an ending that tore me to pieces! I absolutely recommend it! If you prefer light-hearted books then I'd say to steer clear of this one, but if you're looking for dark YA books with emotional and shocking endings then this is a must read.
This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/2016/06/unnatural-deeds-by-cyn-balog.html