I’ve seen this book in a lot of hauls, and I thought that the premise seemed really interesting, so I decided to add it to my TBR. Also, I love the cover, it’s so simple but beautiful!
From the blurb:
June and Delia used to be best friends; the type of friendship that you think is going to last forever. Built upon shared love, experiences and secrets one night things all went a little too far and now they haven’t spoken for a year. Then an announcement at school that Delia is dead leaves June reeling and unable to believe her friends actions. Pushed by Delia’s ex-boyfriend Jeremiah, June begins to wonder if it really was suicide at all – or was Delia murdered.
June and Delia had been best friends from the age of twelve (ish – I’m not familiar enough with American grades yet); and they were as close as sisters unti a year ago.
One night over the Christmas holiday, after not speaking to Delia for over a year, June receives a call from her former best friend but lets it go to voicemail. When she goes back to school she finds out that Delia has died. The school announcement doesn’t say what happened to Delia, but there are rumours that she committed suicide.
June listens to the message Delia left on her phone, and realises that it was left the night that Delia killed herself. Delia says that she has something important she needs to tell her. June is overcome with guilt about what happened to their friendship, and that she wasn’t there for Delia in her time of need.
Delia was terrified of fire, and often had nightmares about being trapped and surrounded by flames, and yet supposedly killed herself by pouring fuel on herself and setting herself on fire.
As June tries to discover what led her friend to suicide she finds out that not everything was as it seemed, and maybe Delia didn’t kill herself.
I’m going to do something I don’t usually do…I’m going to give spoilers. I will share a brief spoiler free review first, and then will warn you when to stop reading if you don’t want to know the ending and “big twists”.
This book is pitched as Gone Girl for teenagers meets Thirteen Reasons Why, but it just tried to be too clever for its own good. I hate it. As in, halfway through the book I knew where it was going.
The “twist” was so obvious and transparent that it just irritated me. I stopped actually reading the book seriously halfway through, and had the WordPress app open to note down inconsistencies and ridiculous moments as they happened, so that I could give this story the review it deserves.
Generally, both main characters were just awful. You’re supposed to think that June & Delia have this amazing friendship, but it just didn’t seem normal. The narrative jumps back and forth between the time following Delia’s suicide and various points in Delia and June’s friendship, from both girls viewpoint.
As June starts to investigate Delia’s “suicide” she bumbles around, asking questions, ignoring the obvious holes in the answers she’s given, not really thinking about the information she finds out and generally being really stupid.
June supposedly had the perfect boyfriend in Ryan, an athlete and good student, but she immediately thinks he and/or Delia’s boyfriend Jeremiah may have had something to do with her death. She doesn’t know who to trust and so trusts no one.
June’s mother is an alcoholic, so I can understand her not confiding in her about her suspicions, but she doesn’t speak to the police, grief counsellors or anyone about Delia’s death. Even when Jeremiah starts acting really unstable.
I really really disliked this book; but once I stopped taking it seriously (about halfway through) it became amusing in a good bad film kind of way. This book is not suitable for younger teenagers as contains a lot of explicit language; themes discussed include teenage sexual activity, assault, underage drinking, drug use and abortion. Here ends the spoiler free portion of the review.
If you don’t want any spoilers stop reading now! I warned you…
So here goes. June is overcome with guilt about what happened to her friendship with Delia. She replays Delia’s final message and discovers that there is more than she previously thought; in the background Delia can here a man yelling, and Delia shouting back that she will tell someone what he did. Delia is immediately convinced that it is her boyfriend’s voice on the message.
That is, until she speaks to Ryan. He immediately convinces her that it’s not him on the voicemail (it is). The narrative then fluctuates in time between when June and Delia first became friends and the present.
The two girls were very close, and extremely tactile; their peers often thought Delia and June were a couple, despite June’s assurances that the relationship and love wasn’t sexual.
It’s clear that Delia was becoming increasingly unhinged. She began drinking and taking drugs, acting out and tried to sabotage June’s relationship with Ryan by blatantly hitting on him. At one point she casually drops into conversation that she had an abortion that morning – more on that shortly. This memory surfaces when June is looking for clues at Delia’s house and finds a positive pregnancy test.
It turns out that Ryan was not the best boyfriend, and Delia was trying to catch him out by making out that she was interested in him, so she had proof that June should dump him…Rather than just tell her friend of her suspicions, because that would be normal. Delia gets drunk and starts kissing Ryan in front of June, and then the girls don’t speak for almost a year.
Everything June finds suggests Delia was murdered, so she keeps digging, unable to decide if it was Ryan, Jeremiah or an unknown assailant who killed her friend. She is literally so persuadeable that it takes about a minute for her to start backtracking after confronting the suspect with her accusations. Even when Jeremiah’s hand is covered with burn marks.
After following Jeremiah to a pharmacy where he gets pain relief for his burns, June is grabbed from behind and shoved into a van. She’s been kidnapped, and here’s the big twist, the kidnapper is Delia.
Delia is still very much alive, having faked her death to escape the advances of her stepfather, William. Delia says this is why she became so out of control. She explains that William molested and tried to rape her over Christmas. Delia only got away by biting William on the chest so violently that she drew blood. Delia’s mum is pregnant, and believed that her daughter was lying because William had caught her doing drugs. Delia’s girlfriend Ashling and two guys called Sebastian and Evan helped her fake her death. Oh yes, Julia has a girlfriend now. Ashling is really good at faking suicide notes and forging handwriting, so she writes a few notes from Delia to back up the suicide story and stop people being suspicious. It’s not clear why Ashling needs to fake Delia’s writing when Delia isn’t dead! but that‘s the least objectionable part of this ridiculous novel.
The four teens (who have all faked their own death at some point) are now living in a swanky house in hiding, with apparently endless supplies of cash, which it is vaguely explained has been gained through Evan’s computer skills.
Delia wants revenge on William for assaulting her and plans to set him up as a drug dealer. She convinces June, really easily I might add, to get involved in the plans to take William down, and plays on her guilt about not returning Delia’s call before the faked suicide. After Delia’s miraculous return from the grave June is so relieved she will pretty much do anything for her.
Of course it transpires that Delia lied about the whole thing, and uses June to help her murder her stepdad by administering an overdose of insulin (he was diabetic). It takes June forever to realise that Delia is making the whole thing up, and it isn’t until after William is dead that she figures out that there was no bite wound on William.
It also turns out that Delia is in love with June and wants her to run away with her. June seems to return Delia’s feelings; Delia kissed her, (before setting her up with Sebastian and standing outside the bedroom door listening whilst they had sex), and June is very jealous/ uncomfortable about Delia and Ashling relationship, and the quite loud,clearly rough, sex they engage in. Delia gives June the option to run away with her, or, and this is implied rather than explicitly stated, she will kill June.
The book ends abruptly with a suicide notes from June. It’s unclear if Delia killed her and Ashling faked a note, or June has run off with Delia. Neither way makes sense.
- Surely Ashling would have realised her girlfriend was in love with June and using her at this point, and refused to help fake a note.
- Why would June run away with Delia after all if that. She’s off her rocker!
So that’s the plot. Here are some bullet points I also made whilst I was reading of things that struck me as odd, stupid or just plain hilarious.
- Delia causually mentions she had an abortion, resulting from having sex with a random guy at a party when the condom broke. Said party took place the week before. Does she mean morning after pill? She found out she that she was pregnant, and arranged an abortion in the space of a week? As in a week after the conception. Confused. Doubtful.
- Ryan & June – wow she does not trust him. Why are they even together?
- Gone Girl style twist is not a twist and actually really obvious. This book is trying way too hard to be clever.
- Who the hell is Seb? Did they accidentally cut the paragraph where we learnt that “tall guy” is called Sebastian?
- Next paragraph from June’s perspective “the tall guy, whose name is Sebastian”. Thanks for that.
- June feeling guilty/ apologetic that she wasn’t there for Delia is just craziness. Delia is manipulative, and crossed a line. Who tries to seduce their best friends boyfriend to prove he’s a bad egg?
- June & Delia very touchy with each other, but not sexual… just friends… oh wait, no it is sexual. What the hell?
- Delia’s voice in the book, I hate it. She’s so pretentious, and overly dramatic. It’s like she makes herself think her thoughts in poetic verse. No one thinks like this! Who is she trying to impress, herself?
- June “A Delia thought channelled directly to my brain…I remember how easy it was to think like her, when near her…” Really? You’re just a Delia puppet. Wow, such a strong female character.
- Not for younger teenagers, lots of explicit language and discussion of topics like drugs, drinking, sexual assault, sexual activity, abortion.
- June drops her friend Krista all of a sudden, after realising she actually doesn’t like her when Delia is back from the dead. So, was she just friends with this girl because of convenience? Because of her boyfriend? June is just such an awful character. It’s like she takes on the characteristics of the people in closest proximity, like some sort of personality sponge. June is so malleable, she acts in whatever manner the person she’s with needs her to.
- Delia & Ashling having rough sex – it feels like the author is just trying to be shocking.
- The whole plot is just ludicrous. Delia’s reasons for faking her death are so insubstantial. I don’t understand why she didn’t just report her stepfather to the police, request emancipation, or just move out? It’s just nonsensical. I can see that the author was trying to create this intricate, twisty, new adult thriller but it just doesn’t work. June’s mum is an alcoholic, but she hasn’t faked her death.
- The timelines don’t make sense – Delia’s wild behaviour supposedly started over a year ago. She tells June her stepfather assaulted her at Christmas, just before she “committed suicide”. So why had her behaviour escalated if her stepdad wasn’t assaulting her until recently?
- The way Delia thinks about Ashling- “urgh she gets so needy, it disgusts me”. Yeah, that’s a relationship that’s going to last. “Ashling is like a goldfish or puppy, she only remembers what you did to her last”. Delia has such disdain for her.
- The four teenagers, Evan, Sebastian, June & Ashling acting as if they’re some sort of crack, elite crime fighting team.
- Ryan set up for watching animal porn.
- Jeremiah setting fire to own hand to feel what Delia did when she killed herself? Shouldn’t June report that to someone? This is not normal behaviour by anyone’s standards.
- Why does it take June so long to question the fake suicide? The police would have found a body. Delia’s explanation that she bribed someone at the morgue, and gave them a blowjob, is ludicrous.
So those are my thoughts on this book. Let me know if you plan on reading this book or have already read it in the comments. I would seriously not recommend this book, unless you want a laugh.