Author: Courtney Summers
"I’m going to kill a man. I’m going to steal the light from his eyes. I want to watch it go out. You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer."
Following the disappearance of her addict mother, Sadie has been forced to carry the burden of motherhood to her little sister far before she has even reached adulthood. The longer Sadie tries to pull the family together and protect Mattie, the further apart they seem to drift. Until one night Mattie is found mysteriously dead away from home. Her sister's death shatters Sadie's heart, and it seems to many to be the mournful end to Sadie's struggles as a pseudo-mother. That is, until she disappears from her small town without a word, carrying little more than a switchblade.
On the other side of the country, radio host West McCray begins his search for his next big podcast show. He doesn't expect to land the biggest story of his life in some small rundown town. He certainly never suspected he'd lead an investigation across the western United States for a missing teenager right into the clutches of dangerous criminals and conspiracy.
Whenever I plan to pick up a book that is an outlier in my reading tastes (i.e. contemporary, romance, mystery, thriller...), it's typically because it proposes to do something that's unconventional within its genre. Here we have your run of the mill high stakes revenge thriller/drama. Except it's not done typically. Courtney Summers spliced in the added drama of a podcast host trying to solve a mystery chance just threw at him, while we watch it unfold in real time with Sadie. Summers pulled an ace out of her sleeve and increased the stakes by twofold! The result was an incredibly intricately laid and thrilling novel. I loved it!
Courtney Summers' most skillful writing asset is in her characters. Although Sadie and West McCray are the clear stars in these pages, every character we meet shines vividly in your mind well after finishing this novel. (Yes, even the ones you only get to know for a couple paragraphs, especially some of those.) This isn't to say they are all inherently good people, but each individual is so very real and gritty. In fact these are some of the most morally gray characters I've ever had the (dis)pleasure of meeting. They stand out and create the distinct atmosphere, which is an incredibly refreshing experience. I think I'd happily read a spin off novel from just about any character in this book! For a character driven plot such as this, I find such powerful characters to be vital. The characters alone are what makes this book so believable. It's a rather chilling experience how quickly and easily anyone could find themselves thrust into a life similar to those within Sadie. My hat is off to you, Summers!
I'm always intrigued by books that not only change POV every chapter, but change overall timeline and the general vibe. I come into these books expecting something dynamic. However, I am almost always let down by these kinds of books. There is a delicate line the author must walk on to make it work. All the timelines must be compelling on their own, they must interact directly or indirectly enough with each other that the reader doesn't get annoyed with chapter interruptions, and most importantly the author must not get too full of themselves and overdo it! Nothing's worse than a book that oversells itself because an author did something unconventional and suddenly thinks they are hot stuff for it. This very problem has got to be the #1 way to create disappointed readers and poor reviews.
Thankfully, this problem isn't present within Sadie. Summers does a fantastic job of intertwining two perfectly balanced and intriguing storylines. I truly enjoyed how the two plots interacted. They almost turned the story into a candle that burns at both ends. The backstory was being revealed as the conclusion was happening. Both were needed to enjoy the story, and both characters had plenty to bring to the table to entertain and keep the reader at the edge of their seat.
I found in Sadie a new favorite in the thriller genre. I'm already excited to pick it up for a reread! I highly recommend this one. I know we've all been seeing it everywhere lately, but I promise you the hype is absolutely worth it!