Series: Nearly #1
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: YA Thriller
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.
Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.
Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.
Oh, Nearly Gone. You could have been so much like Find Me and been as good–or better–as that fine example of mystery YA, but you disappointed me. That’s not to say the novel is a terrible mystery–honestly, the mystery angle of the novel is one of the only angles it gets right–but it needed much more work to be a good, fully formed book.
The riddles Nearly finds in the personal ads are all intriguing and they’re things you tend not to figure out until the same time Nearly does or when the person it refers to is found dead. Multiple times, I felt so certain I knew who the killer was and why, but the book always had a way of making me question myself and wonder if maybe this other person did it. In the end, about half the cast made my list of suspects before one I didn’t have on my list revealed themselves as the culprit. Good! More of that!
Really, the mystery and my desperate need to know who did all this was the only reason I kept reading. The story itself is troubled, to say the least. The majority of the victims are female (this has started to bother me more since my horror film class) and the color of a woman of color’s skin is regularly described in terms of food and drink. It shouldn’t need saying by now that describing a nonwhite woman in such a way is offensive. Problematic elements like these kept me from fully enjoying the story.
Nearly is an idiot too despite being one of the top students in her school. Every time someone who knows better tells her to do something, she does the opposite and nearly screws herself over. If she could listen to people once in a while, that would be great. There’s also her extremely out of place paranormal power of being able to feel someone else’s feelings while touching them. There is literally no need for it in this story other than to simplify characters’ motives and feelings and even that is something unnecessary. Make us wonder if someone should be trusted or is putting on a facade! Don’t just tell us they actually feel this way!
But you know what? I can’t blame Nearly entirely for refusing to listen to other people. Her love interest Reece is often the one telling her to do something because he knows better, but she can’t trust him because he was initially planted in her life as a mole. While her inability to trust him is understandable, that same thing makes it impossible for me to get on board with this ship. What is a relationship without trust? How can I force these two together when she doesn’t trust him and I don’t really trust him either?
Something else that bothered me was the complete disregard for hospital protocol about visitors. Nearly asking for someone named Smith because it’s a generic surname, choosing one of the three Smiths in the hospital as someone she is visiting, and signing in as a visitor under a fake name so she can go see someone whose near-murder Nearly is being framed for safely? This is all happening while she’s being pretty suspicious. How no one called security reporting her is a mystery to me.
A million kinds of noooooooooooooooo. My mom has been a nurse for over twenty years and I remember I had to provide my ID and her full name to get in and visit my friend when she went to the hospital last year. Mom, when asked, said a person had to provide the full name of the patient at the very least. No throwing out a generic last name and fishing like Nearly did. If there’s something that irritates me, it’s hospitals in novels working in completely wrong ways for ease of storytelling like this. Find a way to make it work. Hospitals don’t ask for much, really.
We also get some commentary on class and how difficult it is when life gives you the bad lot because you pretty much have to crawl up the ladder if you can get your hands on the rungs at all, but the commentary only gets about halfway there. Not worth spending time on.
It’s very unlikely I’ll be sticking around for the sequel, but there’s a bit of a silver lining to this: Nearly Gone was all I could think about while I was reading it. The novel is so troubled and yet I didn’t explode in rage, which is actually a much better quality to have than it sounds like. Add in that it kept me occupied over the 24-hour period in which I read it and I was sick as a dog? Good stuff. It’s worth trying out yourself to see if it fits, but I can see opinions falling all across the board.