Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

February 27, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria StolarzShutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Sixteen-year-old Day Connor views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she observes and the truths she believes—neatly captured in black and white—begin to blur.

Julian does not look like a murderer, but his story is full of holes, and his alibis don’t quite add up, either. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture…whatever it reveals.

Did he kill his parents? Or didn’t he?

While Julian remains on the run, Day digs deeper into his case. But the more facts she uncovers, the longer her list of questions becomes. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels with Julian.

Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case that will prove Julian’s innocence. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
Disability: 1 (Julian’s mom suffered from depression and a painkiller addiction; she attempted suicide multiple times)
Intersectionality: 0

Back when I was just a wee fourteen-year-old just getting into reading, Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Blue is for Nightmares series was a small thing and her Touch series was just beginning. While looking for new reads, her books would always be right there waiting, but I never bothered with them. Well, if their quality is anything like Shutter, I’m thankful little me was never interested.

Day’s and Julian’s characterizations are very straightforward: Day is the do-everything do-gooder daughter of two big-time activists and a photographer who is always looking for The Shot; Julian is the emotionally frazzled main suspect in his parents’ deaths and the product of an abusive home. They aren’t anything to write home about, but they work as co-leads. As Day commences her search for the truth with real-world investigating, Julian’s journal entries provide his perspective in ways Day’s recorded conversations with him can’t get across. The choice to let him narrate as well was a good one.

The rest of the cast, though? Shallow as a puddle that’s almost dried out. Day’s best friends Tori and Jeannie are especially notable in this regard. Tori’s entire world and a surprising number of her interactions with Day revolve around boys; Jeannie is the beauty hiding behind geeky glasses who eliminates the almost-love triangle by going out with Day’s other possibility Max Terbador.

Tori in particular earns my ire because of her sex-shaming of a character who literally never appears on the page. See, Tori has a crush on some no-name early in the book and she’s mad he’s going to a party with Becky Burkus. That’s where this delightful exchange comes from:

“Becky Freaking Burkus. I mean, seriously, have you not noticed her skanky attire lately? Low-cut blouses, ho-length skirts, fishnet stockings, and visible string.”

“As in shoelaces?”

“As in G,” she barks, snagging the attention of Mr. Czarnecki, the librarian. “Becky’s like a walking peep show.” she whispers.

Though this comes from page 117 in m ARC, I checked the final copy and it remains intact in its entirety. (Also, most modern high school dress codes would hardly let a girl like Becky get away with clothes like those described.)

Day’s failure to call her out on this sex-shaming really screws with her characterization as a girl who cares about justice and all things Good. Sure, she says Tori is sinking to shallow depths with such remarks, but that’s not even close to the level of calling her out. When my best friends said bisexual people were more likely to cheat on you, I ouright told them they needed to stop because they were being biphobic, offensive, and wrong. Day can’t seem to do the same thing despite her being much more dedicated to her causes than I am to almost everything.

Day’s parents are largely absent since they’re divorced, her dad is living elsewhere, and her mom works long hours getting innocent people out of foreign prisons. This is what enables the book’s predictable plot and allows Day to keep Julian’s presence in her home’s shed hidden. Her investigation is so amateur that it honestly amazes me anyone is willing to talk to her and give her the pieces she needs to pull together the case.

Oh, and hilariously wrong facts make you wonder if you should trust the book to get anything right. Like, claiming Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were a famous couple akin to John Lennon and Yoko Ono? Really? (Again, I checked this against the final copy and no one corrected that blatant error.)

Maybe I’ve been a wee bit mean? To be fair, Shutter is quite readable. The book is largely garbage, but it’s very readable garbage you’ll find yourself devouring quickly. There are better thrillers and amateur investigations out there, so I suggest you pass on Shutter to go read some of those. For instance, Kara Taylor’s Prep School Confidential series.

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