Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Envy - Gregg Olsen

Envy by Gregg Olsen
Series: Empty Coffin #1
Genre: YA, mystery, thriller
Published on August 23, 2011
Published by Splinter
Pages: 285
Read From: 9.15.12 - 9.18.12
Final Rating: Special Awfulness Award

Evil comes in all sorts of flavors. Some bitter. Some deceptively sweet. That's what Katelyn discovers on the day she dies. One minute she's a depressed teen with a loser life. The next, she's lying on a stainless steel slab, eyes glassy, skin frosted over, and very, very dead. Was it suicide? Murder? Who's to blame? 
Twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan stumble upon the truth, which is far more disturbing than they could have ever imagined. . . .and which sheds light on another secret, a hidden past even they don't know about.


Cover Blurb: It’s a very good cover for a murder mystery, though it looks a little like it was created in PhotoShop. The green background is a nice touch to go along with the title; it reminds me of the saying “green with envy.”

What I Liked: The prologue was foreboding and engaging, even if it was overly descriptive and completely put me off strawberries dunked in white chocolate. And sadly, that is all I can say about this book that I liked.

What I Disliked: Everything. Read on to see the specifics.

Believability: There was issues in this part. While the forensics side of things seemed accurate, there were many other things that just weren’t believable. For one thing, Haley and Taylor are convinced that Katelyn didn’t kill herself, and yet they don’t conduct their investigations in a very earnest manner - not in the way someone who suspected foul play would. Haley and Taylor’s psychic powers weren’t convincing - they just made the whole story feel like a Lifetime original movie. And then the ending . . . I’ll address this further down in Conclusion, but I’ll say this: it’s extreme.

Writing Style: I can sense an ability to write in this Author’s style, but he did a bloody good job of hiding his talent when he wrote this. He reiterates ideas too much and over-describes things. He tries to create a sense of foreshadowing by randomly italicizing paragraphs and ending chapters on cryptic “little did they know”-type sentences. Unfortunately, the excitement this foreshadowing creates is false. The Author also jumps from one scene to another in a very confusing, jumbled manner that left my head spinning, and he introduced way too many characters way too fast. I’m all for having lots of characters in a story - it is part of the reason why I love Charles Dickens so much. But when you have so many characters, you have to make sure you introduce them in an orderly fashion and at a careful pace. I am sorry to say that this Author failed. I felt like I was at a huge party and was being overwhelmed with a bunch of guest names all at once, with no reprieve, and I was then expected to remember who was who for the rest of the night. And when he wrote text messages, I wanted to scream. If you’re going to put text messages in a book, use grammar so everyone can read it; I don’t care if “text-language” is more realistic - it’ll only lead to frustration for those Readers who don’t read text-language. I have mixed feelings about the story’s twist. On the one hand, it was kind of good, but also so disturbing that I was left feeling completely weirded out - and not necessarily in a good way.

Content: 1 s-word. There’s nothing explicit, but the story touches a lot on teen suicides, teen molestation, cutting, and internet bullying.

Conclusion: This is what clenched the star rating for me. It’s unbelievable and totally had a What the heck just happened? effect on me, and absolutely not in a good way. [Spoiler] Haley and Taylor stand by and watch while a friend pushes Moira into the bay with a car, effectively killing her. [End spoiler] I’m sorry, but Haley and Taylor just witnessed a crime, and the book mentions that they were a little shaken up afterward. Hello?! Someone was just killed!! Yeah, the lady was prying into your lives, but killing her was more than a little extreme. And they would be way more than a little shaken up. And then the police write it off as an accident? They don’t note the set of tire tracks in the driveway, the missing computer? Sorry, but that was a completely ridiculous incident that I didn’t buy into at all. As a whole, this book was a disappointment. The prologue promised a really good and creepy murder mystery; it didn’t deliver, and I completely felt like I had just wasted a good few hours of my life by the time I was done.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, older audience simply because the topics might be disturbing to a younger Reader.

Others in the Empty Coffin Series:

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