First Lines: An angry rap shook the motel room door. I lay perfectly still on the mattress, my skin hot and clammy.
Oh my gosh, it’s a book review! The odds of seeing one of those on here anymore is like trying to spot a unicorn. I picked this up at the library a while ago when I got nostalgic for the suspense in Black Ice, Becca Fitzpatrick’s first foray into suspense thrillers. I thought this would be worth it.
After witnessing a horrific crime, a girl is given a new identity and a new home. She becomes Stella Gordon and moves to Thunder Basin, Nebraska. But Stella isn’t ready to give up her life just yet. Why should she give up her boyfriend, her high school career, her life–because someone else committed a crime and she needs to testify against them? How can she be expected to start a life in Nebraska, of all places? Stella begins to count the days until she turns 18 and can legally set out on her own…but things change when she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder for her to keep her distance. She knows she can’t tell Chet about her past, but the guilt of constantly lying to him is starting to eat her alive. And just when Stella begins to feel safe in her new home, she’ll realize that her enemies are much closer than she believed…
While this had moments of feeling like a thriller/suspense story, it’s way more mellow than Black Ice. Basically, this is the story of Stella as she struggles to feel normal in the middle of Nebraska after being relocated there by the witness protection program. Yes, there’s quite a bit of stuff about how she landed in witness protection, but this book is equally about her culture shock, coming from Philly. So it’s not much about the suspense as it is about her learning about life, love, and forgiveness.
Stella is a good protagonist for this story because she’s stubborn and strong, even though sometimes she’s too stubborn for her own good. I kind of like that, though. And I also liked that she had moments of weakness that made her seem more flawed. She’s more annoying at the beginning than she is later. And I only say that in retrospect because I don’t remember finding her annoying in the beginning at all.
The plot was good as well, though I felt like it tended to jump around a lot. There are quite a few loose ends in this story that never fully get answered. They are left vague, perhaps to force you to make your own conclusions. That wasn’t really a tactic I liked, but I’ll freely admit that I had a hard time putting this book down. I read most of it in one sitting.
Mostly, I enjoyed the characters in this book and how they all interact. I like trying to figure people out, so to watch Stella do that in a town she doesn’t know or truly understand was fun. And there are definitely some interesting characters, as you would expect in any small town. There are secrets, gossips, corruption, and cover-ups. It’s always interesting.
Overall, I found this to be an interesting cast of characters and a serious look at the problems in life from addiction to teenage pregnancy. But if you’re looking for a hardcore thriller, this probably isn’t your book.