Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, YA
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!~
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