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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
Top customer reviews
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The summary on this one is pretty typical; we open with our protagonist unsure of where she is or what has gone on for the past six weeks. Her friend is dead and she stands accused. Yet she can't remember a thing. The novel unfurls as everyone around her tries to figure out what exactly came to pass.
This is a YA novel and I tend to judge those somewhat differently than I do others in the adult genres. The first question to be asked is whether there's anything in this novel that I wouldn't want my own kids to read. On that note, it's a bit rough in the language department. There is a fair amount of profanity and some reference to sex but it's nothing major or hard core. It's just something to watch out for. It should be also noted that the overall arc of this story is NOT a lesson that I would want my children to internalize. It's hard to be more specific without accidentally creating a spoiler but suffice to say that if my kids behaved this way I'd have to shake my head and walk away.
Secondly, is there anything in this book that's positive that I would consider a positive message for kids. The book demonstrates the creation of a great friendship built between two people in very different layers of society. That is good to see, but unfortunately the rest is a spiraling maelstrom of jealousy and deceit and people just generally being jerks to each other. So there's not much positive in that.
Lastly, the question is, will readers find it enjoyable. On that count, they just might, mostly on the basis of the complete deficiency of anything positive to say in question two. If you like them dark and beyond any redemption then this is a book for you. It is a very easily consumed little novel that you could swallow in several hours but the question is will you like the taste in your mouth once you eat it?
With Malice begins with Jill waking up in a hospital room with no memory of what had happened in the last six weeks. She learns that she had travelled to Italy and become involved in a car accident that killed her best friend.
But wait. Was it an accident? When the media begins to portray Simone's death as a cause of Jill's jealousy, Jill desperately tries to continue believing that she would never hurt Simone. But how can she be sure when she can't even remember the events that changed her life forever?
So I really, really, liked the writing style of this book. I thought that the police statements and chat rooms really accentuated how the media twisted the truth and made Jill seem like the perpetrator.
But although the writing captured my attention, I felt like I wasn't really getting a feel for the characters. I didn't really like any of the side characters, to be honest. Simone was placed on a pedestal in Jill's mind, and over time I stopped seeing her as Jill's best friend and more like that popular and perky girl that lit up the room. And I just thought that everyone else (especially the parents) were unsupportive to the point where it was annoying (which, you could argue, was the point). I think that the one character I liked was Anna, a girl who becomes Jill's friend in the hospital.
As for Jill, although she was the main character, I felt more indifferent because it was hard to decide just what type of person she was. The Jill in the beginning of the story felt completely different from the Jill at the ending.
And speaking of the ending, I was honestly quite disappointed. It felt like there had been such a big build-up that seemed to just dwindle down into nothing as the truth was revealed. What I do give this ending credit for is that it's realistic. When I step back and look at the conclusion, I do see how the media often blows stories out of proportion and how people just need someone to blame, but in terms of the story, I felt like the ending just didn't match up to the hype and suspense that had been building up for three hundred pages. (And this is the main reason why I rated it two stars - the ending was kind of a let-down and after reading it I just became kind of "eh" towards the entire book.)
Overall, I thought the pacing was okay, although it got a little slow towards the middle. The mystery isn't solved until the very, very, very, end of the book, and so the suspenseful mood seemed to get a little old around the 60% mark. I also thought that most of the book was actually predictable, and so I wouldn't give it props for originality, but I do think that the book was well-written in terms of style and diction.
Most recent customer reviews
I didn't like the abrupt closing of the story.Read more