Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the next book review from your local jellyfish!
Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick. Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?
- Nick as a character was fun to read about and very likable. He's not completely full of himself, and isn't without his flaws. His family life and background as well as his interest in hiking make him a well-presented character. I also love that he isn't ridiculously hot and is described as being a pretty average guy. He has a good heart, and it's not all about the looks.
- The way Maggie's bullying experience is described not all at once, but throughout the novel. It's a reminder to readers of why it's so difficult for Maggie that Raleigh is back in town.
- Maggie not stooping down to Raleigh's level and not sharing her secret. It is proof of a certain maturity that Maggie has.
- How hiking was incorporated into this novel. Maggie's ability to conquer the mountain is similar to how she is able to conquer her fears and insecurities, and was a nice metaphor.
- Maggie's various hobbies and how they add to the novel well. They're a little unusual, but the reader can't help but enjoy watching her become more skilled at these various things.
- The story's pacing. On one hand, the novel is pretty short. On the other, it sort of drags on for a while. Everything kind of gets wrapped up in the very last few pages of the book, and feels a little too rushed, too much like a conclusion.
- Nick's father. The essence of his character, what he represents, and how he influences the novel work well, but some of his dialogue was unrealistic, and while many parents do often say painful things to their children, some of what Dr. Cleary said to Nick didn't seem normal. For example, hanging himself over a C might not have been the best choice of dialogue.
- Maggie's inability to see something was definitely going on with Sylvie. It was so painfully obvious to readers that it made no sense for Maggie to ignore these warning signs time and time again. Maggie comes across as very selfish in her texts and interactions with Sylvie, and while no character is perfect, this felt a little overdone.
- Maggie and Nick misunderstanding their feelings for each other was so frustrating because as a reader, it was so plainly obvious that they were interested in each other. Without it there wouldn't be much of a plot, but perhaps it was not the best plot choice.
- Vanessa and Nick's relationship was too predictable, and felt a little unrealistic. There doesn't seem to be anything really holding them together, and it doesn't really make sense for them to have ever started a relationship.
The way this book dealt with bullying without showing bullying scenes in the present was an interesting take, and the different sub-plots in this novel were fairly interesting to read about. However, a few problems such as pacing and plot choices made this novel more similar than different from other contemporary novels.
This was a really hard book to rate, but I'll stick to giving it 3 and a half stars. Again, because I don't like slicing jellyfish, I will only show 3.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!