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A Line in the Dark Hardcover – October 17, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Friendship, romance, obsession, and crime all get tangled up in this complicated mystery about love and lies. Angie Redmond and Jess Wong are best friends, though Jess harbors a desperate and rather obvious crush on Angie. Their relationship becomes complicated when Angie begins to date Margot, a wealthy student at a nearby boarding school. Jess, a talented artist who creates a dark, supernatural comic about a love triangle, has her doubts about Margot, who seems cruel and controlling. Margot drives a wedge between Angie and Jess, but eventually, a murder brings them back together. As the police interview all three girls, the details of the night a student is killed highlight the tension among Angie, Jess, and Margot, but do not clearly point to who may have committed the crime. Just when it seems like the truth is coming to light, the story takes another turn, forcing readers to reassess everything they think they understand. Dark, twisty, and unsettling, this book almost begs to be read in one sitting, and then instantly reread. The pace picks up in the second part, with higher tension and uncertainty propelling the story forward quickly, encouraging teens to race to the whodunit conclusion. Though the final few chapters feel rushed, they provide a satisfying—and shocking—finale to this scandalous examination of jealousy, secrets, and untrustworthy characters. VERDICT A high-interest thriller with wide appeal recommended for all collections.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN
“With an active focus on female friendships and relationships, A Line in the Dark is a twisty, dark psychological thriller that will leave you guessing til the very end. The story follows two friends down a path of dysfunction and murder as one of them, Chinese-American Jess tries to balance the expectations of her family, her fraught relationship with Angie, and her mounting sexual attraction for her. Lo offers some impressive storytelling, a chilling plot, and mean girls aplenty.”—Teen Vogue
“[A] riveting read… The story of tensions, romances and even violence between townies and prep school kids is well-trodden ground, but Lo makes it new and exciting by creating nuanced queer characters and giving them the chance to make their own terrible decisions.”—NPR
"[A] heart-tugging story of a teenage girl who expresses herself in art in ways she can’t quite do in real life — even as she tries to hold on to her best friend despite grappling with deeper feelings for her.”—Vulture
"AAsh, Huntress, and Inheritance, A Line in the Dark. Lo instantly invites readers along, enticing them to stay up just a little bit later for the next big reveal, and supplies readers with one final twist that will take their breath away."—Lambda Literary
"[A] hauntingly captivating thriller."—Bustle
"This slender novel packs a punch."—Brightly
"A Line in the Dark marks Lo’s foray into the contemporary genre, promising an intense read that should be at the top of your list."—Paste
"Malinda Lo's A Line in the Dark is soaked in menace. Each page in this brilliant thriller is deliciously unsettling—like Gone Girl meets Pretty Little Liars." —Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken and Now I Rise.
“A beautifully written and compellingly well-observed psychological thriller.” —Kate Elliott, New York Times bestselling author of Court of Fives and Cold Magic
"As soon as I finished, I had to read it again.” —Justine Larbalestier, author of My Sister Rosa and Liar
★"Malinda Lo delivers an enthralling mystery full of twists, turns, dark heroics... and high school."—Shelf Awareness, starred review
★ "Lo has delivered an intricate tapestry of narrative, woven in a labyrinthine pattern of secrets and colored with intersecting hues of Chinese-American identity, the dark intensity of relationships, and telltale stains of blood.... Mesmerizing."—Kirkus, starred review
★ "The plot is fast-paced and will keep readers guessing until the end. The characters are well developed and feel authentic. It is refreshing to read about LGBT characters in a story where being LGBT is not the focus. Any young adult reader who loves psychological thrillers will be clamoring to get their hands on this captivating book."—School-Library Connection, starred review
"Drawing every charatcer as complicit in unexpected and thought-provoking ways, Lo spins an addictive psychological mystery."—The Horn Book
"Dark, twisty, and unsettling, this book almost begs to be read in one sitting, and then instantly reread.... Verdict: A high-interest thriller with wide appeal recommended for all collections."—SLJ
★ Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2017 ★
★ Vulture 10 Best YA Books of 2017 ★
★ Chicago Public Library's Best Teen Fiction of 2017 ★
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If a tree falls in a forest, and no one hears it fall, did it make a sound? The philosophical conundrum attributed to Charles Berkley makes me ask, “If a novel highlighting mental illness never mentions mental illness, is the book still about mental illness?
A LINE IN THE DARK is marketed like a psychological thriller, but reads more psychological than thriller, though mental illness is never addressed. Jess and her best friend Angie have an enmeshed relationship, mostly from Jess’s side of the friendship. When Angie starts dating Margot, a girl from a nearby boarding school, Jess becomes more possessive and at one point even stalks Angie. Someone goes missing and turns up murdered. The investigation reveals even more about all the girls and their relationships, including those not mentioned in this review.
Jess narrates the first part of the book and the epilogue. The second half of A LINE IN THE DARK contains police interviews and different third person points of view. Also contained in this novel is Jess’s comic book, an allegory for her internal struggles and the plot. I’m not a fan of stories within stories. I think they take away from plot and character development. This was the third or fourth I’ve read in recent months and I haven’t liked any of them.
Jess was a character hard for me to champion. She was selfish, controlling, dishonest and downright mean. Had she been over eighteen, her unhealthy attachment to Angie, poor impulse control and risky behavior could have been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder. Had Malinda Lo chosen to delve into Jess’s psyche rather than gone with the comic angle, A LINE IN THE DARK would have been a five star read. I also wish Jess’s experiences as a first generation Chinese American had been further explored.
I didn’t understand why Angie wanted to continue her friendship with Jess, especially after Jess stalked her.
Plot wise, the murder mystery was less interesting to me than Jess’s psyche and the twisted friendships and romantic relationships in the book.
Despite its flaws, A LINE IN THE DARK was an enjoyable read and is a book I’ll probably reread in the future.
I was right, because I truly enjoyed this book.
The book follows a teenage girl named Jess, who is extremely passionate about drawing. Jess has a best friend named Angie and the two have been thick as thieves for a really long time, until Jess notices a girl approach Angie at the Creamery where she works and it kind of puts a wedge between them.
Margot is gorgeous and has her eye out on Angie, which makes Jess extremely uncomfortable and jealous because of her own feelings towards her best friend that she is unable to express or too scared to. The two start dating and Angie and Jess end up in a fight because Angie notices that Jess doesn’t seem to like Margot but at the same time Angie isn’t aware of Jess’ feelings towards her.
Jess attends an art program at the school that Margot goes to (a boarding school for the wealthy) and that causes her to stumble onto some deep secrets that Margot and her best friend Ryan are hiding.
Well, this secret leads to Ryan’s death after a Christmas party and these kids end up being investigated because they are the last to see Ryan alive.
This book is done in two parts. The beginning throws you into what happened, but the first part is before the incident and the second part is the investigation following the incident. I thought this book was really well done, I really enjoyed the writing, the characters, the plot was interesting. It had diversity, but it also had a plot.
This is not a book that is meant to be spooky, and I know some people felt that way when they saw the cover. This is actually a contemporary young adult with a mystery and a twist. It’s about a girl, who is trying to sort of find herself as well as try to deal with the fact that the girl she is in love with, she cannot have.
This book, I am warning now, does not come with a happy ending. It is not a romance, even if it features a romance.
It also reads as an older Young Adult, it is sex positive, but no there are no explicit sex scenes in it. It does have drinking and some cursing.
I did have a hard time putting this down, I was completely invested in the plot line and the characters and I really wanted to know what happened. The ending threw a real curve ball and it was, I did not expect that but it explained some things.
The only issue I think I have is that, the beginning was not how the rest of the book completely unfolded and I felt that the killer should probably have been more affected maybe by what happened? But all in all, I really enjoyed this, it was an interesting read and I always appreciate a book with diversity and a good, engrossing plot line.