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With Malice Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room recovering from a broken leg and a traumatic brain injury with no memory of how she got there. She doesn't remember anything about her study abroad trip to Italy six weeks ago with her best friend Simone. She doesn't remember the car crash that killed Simone or the flight her wealthy father chartered to get her to an American hospital. She doesn't remember why she might need the lawyer her father has hired. Everyone thinks they know what happened between Jill and Simone, thanks to eyewitness accounts and the sensational news coverage, but it's up to Jill to figure out the truth for herself. This character-driven thriller teases out what might have happened between the two girls as the events leading to the accident slowly unfold. Jill's recovery includes realistically portrayed rehab for her broken leg and speech therapy for the aphasia that leaves her forgetting words. Cook intersperses Jill's first-person narration with police interviews, news coverage, and blog posts about the car crash. Travel guide excerpts are as close as readers will get to any Italian locations as Jill's memories of the trip remain elusive for most of the novel. Flashbacks, Facebook posts, and emails help to further develop Jill and Simone's complicated relationship. The rest of the cast fall more comfortably into stock character territory. Questions of what Jill remembers and what might have been a dream or suggested memory lend a chilling quality to the conclusion of this novel. VERDICT A solid thriller that will leave readers guessing until the very last page.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library
"A creepy, satisfying thriller..."
"This multimedia project is a perfect thriller to stow in your beach bag.”
"Prepare for lots of twists, right up until the very last chapter."
“[A] page-turning psychological thriller.”
"For those who like a suspenseful and riveting novel.”
“This book will have you turning pages as you try and decide what you believe and who you can trust.”
* "Cinematic scene breaks and propulsive reveals will keep the pages furiously turning in this slow-burning but explosive thriller."
–Booklist, STARRED review
"[With Malice] is a page-turner, and the ending is unsettling—let the reader beware."
"A solid thriller that will leave readers guessing until the very last page."
–School Library Journal
"Cook believably portrays the struggles of girl who had it all and is left to pick up the pieces of a life she isn’t sure is hers."
"The hoopla surrounding the accident is played well, reminiscent of the real-life Amanda Knox trial. Jill's past-tense narration is complemented by Justice for Simone blog posts, police transcripts, text messages, email, Facebook comments, and Crime Watch episodes, through which details of their frenemy-ship and what might've happened emerge."
"The story is twisty, well-written, and so powerful that I felt as though I was reading about a true crime. Is there anything more complex or vicious than a teen girl? Especially one with secrets."–Chevy Stevens NYT Bestselling author Still Missing and Those Girls
"Some books you read and forget immediately. Some you finish and want to start again immediately. This is one of the latter. Staggeringly smart, just enough sexy, and virtually seamless."–Terra Elan McVoy, author of Edgar Finalist, Criminal
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Top customer reviews
The book read like it was written by someone who either doesn't spend much time with teenage girls, doesn't remember being a teenage girl, or doesn't have a lot of respect for teenage girls. And the result is characters that are one dimensional and trite. I live with an 18 year old girl, and I Can tell you, they have a rich inner world that this book didn't come close to touching. I found much of the teen dialog forced and not believable. The adult dialog was mostly fine, though I did find even some of those characters written as caricatures of personas instead of as fully fleshed-out individuals. And even though this is a YA novel, I didn't think it paid the reader due respect either: the book could have been a lot savvier than it was, even with it's utterly lackluster plot.
Those looking for a story with a good twist? Please keep looking. There isn't a twist so much as a general feeling of, "....Oh. That's all? I see." Like, you might not have guessed that's where you were headed, but once you got there, you weren't punched in the face like perhaps you were with Gone Girl. This book just sort of...ends. And you're like, "Ok, well, thanks for nothing."
I found some of the devices the author used awfully convenient ("My friend knows stuff about computers!" "AWESOME! Can he solve this riddle for me?" "TOTES!" "RAD!") and the entire book was riddled with cliches. (The interview with the Italian guy who describes the girls as bellisima while kissing his fingertips LITERALLY made me cringe)
Overall, weak plot, weak twist, poorly developed characters, but a fast-paced read that does leave you wanting to know what happened, even if that desire hits a wall at the end of the novel.
WITH MALICE has everything readers look for in a great novel. Eileen Cook grabbed me from the first page with Jill's strong, authentic voice, waking from a coma, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, struggling for words and memories. I've never read a character with TBI written so accurately. I love a writer who does great research.
Since Jill can't remember the last 6 weeks of her life, including the the accident in Italy that battered her body and left her best friend Simone dead, I wondered how reliable a narrator she was. As the Italian police question Jill for causing the accident and deliberately killing her friend, I wondered, was she the innocent crash victim she presented to readers, or Chilly Jilly, a jealous murderer.
Cook masterfully wove together this intriguing mystery with so much heart as Jill fights to recover from her injuries and tries to remember the accident. In between Jill's narration so were chapters with police interviews, blog posts, Facebook pages and a Justice for Simone website, which balanced the information Jill presented.
I liked and rooted for Jill. She was a complex character with so many dimensions. She wasn't always likable, but she was sympathetic and the even when she acted poorly, I understood her motivations.
I strongly recommend WITH MALICE for its great writing, voice, plot and characters.
Thank you NetGalley for the complimentary ARC ebook in exchange for my honest review.
I really liked the premise of With Malice, and I enjoyed the first half of the book. That said, I didn't love it overall. I felt like it was trying to be Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, but was unsuccessful. There were a lot of similarities between the two books, and most books that are compared to Dangerous Girls won't stack up, because it was amazing.
I won't give anything away, but I also didn't like the resolution of the book. It felt unbelievable and I had a hard time believing it. I'm struggling to write this because I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll just say that some of the actions taken by some characters felt out of character from what we knew about them. I get that sometimes that's what happens in books or real life, but it wasn't done well enough for me to actually buy it in With Malice.
What I did like was Jill's relationship with her roommate at the rehab center. They seemed to have each others backs, and I enjoyed seeing them help each other progress and just be friends to each other. I also enjoyed the writing in the book. It was easy to read, and I was hooked enough in the story to not want to put the book down until everything was revealed.
If you're in the market for a light mystery vs. a fast paced thriller, you may like With Malice. If the story sounds appealing but you're not sure if you'll like it, I suggest checking out Dangerous Girls instead! I can't recommend that one enough!