Can the right kind of boy get away with killing the wrong kind of girl? Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates. Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk. But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?
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With that being said, A GOOD IDEA straddles the line of being a true thriller. For me, personally, I would have loved a bit more suspense and bigger plot twists. Even though Finley does not feel scared for the majority of the novel, I, as the reader, wanted to be terrified for her. Perhaps because of Finley’s attitude or just the sequence of events, even in the final showdown, the stakes never feel that high. Consequently, though I wanted to find out exactly what happened to Betty, I was not as emotionally involved as I would have liked. Furthermore, I had a hard time buying the final “reveal,” and the additional revelations about Serena and Owen felt a bit rushed for them to really land on me and make an impact.
There also aren’t many redeeming characters in this book. Almost all are hooked on drugs and alcohol, including the protagonist Finley, who spends the majority of the story drunk, high, and chain-smoking. I constantly found myself wondering how she was possibly still functioning and not dead herself. While I understand she and the other characters are grieving, their behavior still feels excessive. For these reasons, plus language, amount of casual sex, and subject matter, I actually think the book is more properly suited to a seventeen-plus crowd, as opposed to a fourteen-and-up readership as suggested. In fact, the book did not really feel like a young adult novel in total.
Overall though, the concept behind A GOOD IDEA is engaging enough that I am still thinking about it days later. It is gritty, unapologetic, and both hedonistic and masochistic at the same time. The story will punch you in the face and make you think you wanted that in the first place.