Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 11, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.
Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.
Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.
Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.
LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME was definitely an interesting book but my first impression was actually that I think it could have benefitted from more editing. I’m no expert in the editing/publishing process, is something I feel a lot nowadays. I think some of the structure and even a whole plot point could have been improved upon a little bit and I really think that’s more editing.
Let’s think of non-spoilery things to talk about first… I did find the direction of this book really interesting! There was a nice twist and that light bulb moment when I finally realized exactly where this book was heading and what these two stories had in common was a very fun moment and I had flails and a freak out! That was really nicely planned and it was fun not to pick up on it right away. (Ah, the perks of multi-tasking — my brain doesn’t try to guess twists and plots when it’s distracted by other things!)
What I did find irksome was the sort of red herring of the book. There are two major things that happen to change the lives of Elyse and Gabe and the second thing seemed like it was more there as a distraction than something that was actually a part of the story. It just didn’t quite seem like it fit in, or thinking about it a different way, it felt like a separate story that didn’t quite merge with the main point. (Confusing? It’s hard not to spoil!)
I also wish that things had started picking up juuuust a little sooner. I knew it would be a dark, twisty book and I didn’t lose interest but I did find myself looking for those jaw-dropping moments, waiting for them to happen. Sure, they don’t need to be in every chapter but it just felt like it took a touch too long for a couple things to unravel.
This was a really interesting book and it looks like my other Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it so far! That red herring feeling did stick with me a lot so that’s why I didn’t enjoy it AS much but I am absolutely interested in other books from Jennifer Donaldson and I’d be so interested to see what else she comes up with!!
If you really want to know, here are the spoilers, so look away if you don’t want to get spoiled on some main plot points and twists! My light bulb moment was figuring out how Gabe’s story and how Elyse’s story are actually connected. I actually won’t even full on spoil this one if you’re looking out of curiosity and not because you’ve already read it. That single point in time when I figured it out was REALLY FUN (and actually terrifying).
I really didn’t like Sasha as the red herring of the book. I didn’t feel like Sasha’s crazy and possessive nature really fit the book. We already had Elyse’s story about her running off with her teacher (side note: ICK) and his possessive craziness and Sasha just felt off and like her form of crazy was in there as a red herring. All of these strange things happen to Gabe and the reader questions if it actually is Sasha like he predicts or if it’s Catherine (sorry, I listened to the audiobook so I don’t know how that’s spelled) or her over protective father. Looking for the twist, I tried to move away from Sasha because that was too obvious and aside from jealousy, there’s no reason for her to go full on nutso, but nope, that’s it. She’s just insanely jealous. I felt like the book didn’t do her story enough justice to really include it in the plot except to throw readers off the other things that were going on and put off making the CONNECTION. These crazy things keep popping up so you follow those. If that whoooole thing was taken out, I think the book could have been even better, focusing more on Gabe and Catherine and Elyse and her teacher. Many things could have been done on Gabe’s side with Sasha totally removed from the scene and the book could have been even better for it, hence the editing comment. It felt underdeveloped and I don’t think it was necessary.
Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers with twists that connect. I love when books can come full circle and connect two seemingly separate stories. (This isn’t a spoiler — obviously these two stories have to connect somehow otherwise it wouldn’t be the same book).
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.
This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.