This is probably going to be a long review so sit back and stay a while.
I was intrigued when Audible recommended this story to me. I’m all about mysteries so I used one of my precious credits on it. Rest assured I will be asking for that credit back. I liked the first of the book more than the rest of it. I’ll go into why.
Short recap: Sixteen year old Maddie has a special gift – she can see everyone’s deathdate — the exact date someone is going to die. Her life has not been easy since her dad was killed on the job and her mom tries to find answers at the bottom of a bottle of vodka. Things get significantly worse when Maddie and her best friend, Stubbs, are investigated for the murder of a fellow classmate.
That’s a lot to take it, isn’t it? There is an awful lot of topics crammed into this story and I do not think they were all handled very well. The biggest topic that stood out to me was Maddie’s mom being a raging chronic alcoholic. She started drinking after her husband passed away and that left Maddie to fend for herself. No child should ever have to make excuses for their drunken parents, nor should they have the burden of financially supporting the household. Yet that is what happened here. Maddie’s mom had Maddie do “readings” for people and she agreed to it to help her mom. What did her mom do with the money? Spent it on vodka. She drank so much that she had her license taken away by the State and refused to get a job. That, again, put the burden of adulthood on Maddie. This teenager was living as if she was in her mid-twenties in her first apartment. Needless to say things escalated with her mom and everything went from bad to worse. Now why does this topic bother me so much? Because it felt like it was brushed over. Yes, Maddie was making excuses for her mother but everyone knew what was going on yet nobody stepped in to help out. It felt like it was added in for a shock factor. It took away from what was supposed to be a supernatural mystery story. Don’t throw in real life issues into a story that isn’t supposed to be about real life serious issues.
The characters were all over the place. Maddie, the protagonist, came across as a typical teenager. I figured she would have at least been a little more mature and grown up about things but that didn’t happen. Instead, she whined like a snotty brat that didn’t get her way. Case in point: when Maddie’s BFF, Stubbs (don’t ask…), was arrested, she threw the biggest temper tantrum in front of FBI agents about her “gift” and how she “just knew” her BFF couldn’t have committed the murders. Listen up and listen good, sweetie, acting like a petulant two year old won’t get you anywhere. How about you act like your age is higher than your shoe size and talk to the adults like adults, m’kay? Now as for Stubbs, I did not jive with him at all. He was arrested, spent some time in prison as a sixteen year old in a cell with a much older adult (don’t understand that one but whatevs, this isn’t my story), gets released and turns into a major asshat only to make a complete turnaround after time by himself? You can try to sell that load of crap somewhere else, Laurie, I’m not buying it. You can’t expect me to buy that everything magically fixes itself on its own.
Remember how I said this was supposed to be a mystery? That part of the story felt like an afterthought. When the killer is finally revealed, it was just ho-hum. There was nothing dramatic or exciting about it. It actually felt like a last minute addition to the story to wrap everything up. Nothing shocking or surprising about it. Meh. That is also how the ending of the story felt – dripping with enough sugar, magic, and rainbows to make unicorns blush. It was not believable in any way, shape, or form. I wish there would have been more insight into how Maddie could read deathdates but PFFFT, why explore that topic when everything else could be talked about instead?
I really wanted to like this more than I did. I really enjoy the paranormal/mystery books but this was trying to hard to be too many things. Bullying, alcoholism, high school issues, family problems, and probably a bit of contemporary were rolled into one. It was a very quick read but it just did not do it for me in the end. I was left feeling completely underwhelmed. In good faith I cannot recommend this to anyone.