By: Melanie | November 20, 2013 | (23) Comments

Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy ChristopherThe Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Pages: 369
Source: Received in exchange for review
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Fatal attraction, primal fear, survival in the forest: From the author of the Printz Honor Book STOLEN, the highly anticipated thriller about deadly games played in the dark.

Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd's dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl's broken body. "Gone," he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent -- isn't he? Before he's convicted, she's got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee's charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her -- the kinds of games that can kill?

I feel somewhat conflicted with The Killing Woods. I have heard the ongoing praise for Stolen: A Letter To My Captor so I simply assumed that Lucy Christopher’s latest had to be an exceptional read. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Either 1) my expectations were unreachably high or 2) I failed to resonate and connect with this novel like others have. Honestly, it’s both reasons. I had expectations for a flawlessly narrated novel but then began to struggle to connect with the suddenly average novel. I guess I cannot blame the book. But my thoughts are my thoughts, and I was rather disappointed.

If you go down in the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down in the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise.

Emily Shepherd doesn’t believe it when her ex-soldier father comes home confused with a girl in his arms. A dead girl. Ashlee Parker. While Emily endeavours with the biting fact that her father is locked up in prison, guilty of killing Ashlee Parker, Damon–Ashlee’s boyfriend is in more grief than ever. Confused and a ball of fire building inside of Damon, he wants Emily to pay for her father’s murder. But did Emily’s dad really murder Ashlee? Or was there someone else in the woods that night?

The Killing Woods is narrated by two people; Emily and Damon. Emily is the daughter of the man who was accused of murdering Ashlee Parker. Emily is more than certain that her father did not kill her–but no one will listen until she has proof. Wrapped in desperation, Emily’s troubles don’t end there. She got in a fight with her best friend. Her school mates look at her weirdly, they’re calling her names that aren’t true. Taking a completely different viewpoint, Lucy Christopher also takes readers inside Damon Hillary’s head. Let’s be blunt shall we? He’s a heartless idiot. Even a little sadistic. Driven by pure hate. And illogical at times. I understand that Damon is having a tough time finding out that his girlfriend got murdered and he wants pay-back but giving Emily detention in the woods is seriously pointless and lacked sense. I wanted much more logic and Damon’s thoughts were too often just clouded with never ending anger and thoughts of sex with Ashlee. Sure, it was part of the plot but it felt too overpowering. In general, I loved Emily, but I hated Damon.

I think what makes me still want to try out Lucy Christopher’s other works is how this woman can write. Was this book meant to be scary? Because I felt like putting this down and hiding under the covers after reading descriptions of Darkwood. Perfectly. Creepy. The atmosphere Lucy Christopher created was a nice balance between suspenseful and eerie. We learn about this ‘game’ Damon used to play when Ashlee was still alive and it gave this book another shiver effect. My only complaint on the writing: the writing felt somewhat too lyrical sometimes, it could have been a little sharper for an even better tension–not to say that the writing was not good enough before–it was already rather extraordinary.

And as a side note: how many convenient coincidences will make a book seem too calculated? And, how long can a phone battery last? Just a few plot holes I felt poke at me during the read.

All in all, a nice attempt of a psychological thriller that could have been so much better with less plot/logic holes and unlikable male protagonist. I don’t think this is a book you should judge reviews on, you may as well read it and make your own judgement seeing how varying the ratings have been of the late.

~Thank you Scholastic Australia for sending me this copy!~

2.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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23 Responses to Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

  1. Rachel says:

    Sorry to see this wasn’t quite your cup of tea, Melanie. I hope I like it better but it doesn’t sound promising. *sigh* I’ll lower my expectations. Great honest review. πŸ™‚
    Rachel recently posted…Cover Fever #3My Profile

  2. Amelia says:

    I thought this one was getting published next year, so to see this already published makes me so happy! Or is it just in AUS? Eh. Shame that this did not work out too well. I love the quote you included though! Fabulous review once again, Mel!

  3. Awww, that sucks. I read the blurb and was like, “this is chilling” but not connecting with a book is the worst.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Review: Imposter by Susanne WinnackerMy Profile

  4. Great review Mel! Guess it does sound illogical, but the psychological thriller aspect does sound exciting. I have this one to read on my shelf too so I’ll have to pick it up soon πŸ™‚ think it’s released in the US in January.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…ARC Review – Pawn by Aimee Carter: Finally a decent dystopianMy Profile

  5. Lexa Cain says:

    I have to give props for the blurb, which makes it sound very mysterious and full of tension, but with a blurb like that, I’d expect a mystery as the heroine searched for the real killer. A vengeful guy POV and sadistic games are NOT what I would expect, and to be honest, not very appealing. Still, I’m glad Lucy nailed the creepy tone and you enjoyed the main character. Great review! πŸ™‚
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate & I Have Treasure!My Profile

  6. I actually quite liked this one, but I like to think of it as thriller-lite. There was a ton of potential that could have been expanded upon, but I think the story was overall fairly well done. Great honest take on this, Melanie πŸ™‚

  7. Tanja says:

    I totally know how you feel. While this is completely different from Stolen I’m not sure what to expect of it. I love Lucy’s writing and I want to read more of her books, but at the same time I’m afraid that this is not a right book for me. Sorry it disappointed you Mel. Great review πŸ™‚
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#70)My Profile

  8. Celine says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it! I have to say, I’m curious what you would think of Stolen. It’s a book that didn’t wow me, but I couldn’t give it anything else than 5 stars. You know those books? You can’t exactly name what was so awesome, but they deserve 5 stars. Going into a book with sky-high expectations though, will probably make it disappoint you… I’d say, lower your expectations and read it, because I’m really curious what you’d think! πŸ˜€

    Otherwise, great review, as always <3
    Celine recently posted…I Did Something And It’s So FreeingMy Profile

  9. Aw that sucks πŸ™ I went to the launch last month and really enjoyed the parts Lucy read out. I’m hoping to read this next month so hopefully I’ll have a higher opinion.

    You definitely should read Stolen because it is brilliant. I had to DNF her second, Flyaway, which was sad. πŸ™

    Great review, Melanie! <33
    Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary recently posted…UKYA BLOG TOUR: Interview with Andy Robb, Author of the Geekhood BooksMy Profile

  10. Sorry this didn’t work for you, but I’m definitely still curious. I have Stolen that I have yet to read as well…must get on that.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…One Ends, Another Begins Two-Book ChallengeMy Profile

  11. Diamond Dee says:

    I didn’t know you liked reading thrillers?! πŸ˜€ I’m not a thriller can myself but I do like scary stories. This book doesn’t sound like my cup o tea though..

    Great review, Mel! Glad you’re back from hiatus πŸ™‚
    Diamond Dee recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #5My Profile

  12. Things that seem too convenient in books always drive me crazy. I remember Sam liking this one a lot and I’ll probably read it at some point, but I’ll keep my expectaitons low.
    Welcome back.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: FiendishMy Profile

  13. Jasprit says:

    So sorry that this book didn’t end up working for you as you’d hoped. I found this book a bit lackluster in places too, which is a real shame, as I had high hopes for this book. Lovely review Melanie, I hope your next read is a lot more enjoyable! πŸ™‚
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Goodbye Rebel Blue by Shelley CoriellMy Profile

  14. I don’t think I had heard of this one but this isn’t my kind of read anyway, sorry it didn’y wow you.
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday (95) + Cover Reveal!My Profile

  15. Plot holes and unlikable MC.. I don’t think the creepiness in her descriptions about Darkwood can make up for that.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 216. Aimee Carter – Pawn.My Profile

  16. So sorry plot holes, questions and characters kept you from completely slipping into this. I struggle with YA mystery, thrillers and tend to seek those out in the adult section. This sounded promising but I am in no hurry to add it.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Gifts of Honor by Stacy Gail & Rebecca CrowleyMy Profile

  17. Alise says:

    “I have heard the ongoing praise for Stolen: A Letter To My Captor so I simply assumed that Lucy Christopher’s latest had to be an exceptional read.” THIS. I read another book by her as well and was very disappointed. I would definitely read Stolen and maybe stop at Stolen, I have yet to read another book by her that was on the same level. I have definitely be wondering about this one though so thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’ll skip this book.
    Alise recently posted…Review: The School For Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniMy Profile

  18. Been meaning to try Stolen — though I find stories like that really tough to read. Thanks for giving me a better idea of what this one is about.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Boys Like YouMy Profile

  19. Candace says:

    I have Stolen but haven’t read it yet. I’m not sure I had even heard of this one yet. Was Damon meant to be hated? I mean was his character the bad guy? If so I guess it would be okay to hate him, though I’m not sure I’d want to be in his head. I’m not sure if this book would be for me.
    Candace recently posted…Young Adult Review: Unbreakable by Kami GarciaMy Profile

  20. I do like a good mystery/thriller, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. I’m sorry this one didn’t even make a 3 for you. Now I worry if I should read this book.
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Book Review : 96. Horde (Razorland #3) by Ann AguirreMy Profile

  21. Creepy books are the bomb! I love scary books, whether they’re meant to be scary or not. Even though your rating was somewhat low, I’m probably going to give this book a chance anyway. Something in your review intrigued me! Lovely review <333
    Nova Lee @ Musings of a Blogder recently posted…Song Review: Give Me Love – Ed SheeranMy Profile

  22. Ahh that is too bad. I had high hopes for this as well. I agree though about the plot hole issues and all that, when it gets too contrived I struggle with it too. I don’t know what I would make of it, I guess I would just have to try it. Thanks for the informative review, Melanie!
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Tour Stop: Lethal Circuit by Lars GuignardMy Profile

  23. Maricris Patrimonio Dimla says:

    Nice Review! I love mystery and Im curious why some didnt like it. so i might just add this on my TBR list to figure it out.

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