Review: Strange Truths by S. D. Wasley

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Overall Score: 8.5/10

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Magical Realism

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: October 17, 2016

Source: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher

Book Summary (From GoodReads)

Why did she have to be so goddamn weird?

Mikey Warrender’s goals are within his grasp. On track for a spectacular swimming career in the last months of his senior year at school, his life seems ideal. A successful Senator father, a pretty, popular sister, and a girlfriend who acts and looks, well, perfect. They’ve had their share of trouble in the form of Mikey’s late twin, but that trouble died with Toby and now things can finally get back on track.

Until Alice England. Mikey couldn’t have been less interested in a friendless undertaker’s daughter who sees strange things and always speaks the truth—until she starts stalking him at school. Alice has reason to believe Tobias Warrender was reluctant to take that fatal dose of crystal meth. What’s more, she insists Mikey is grieving for his twin. Curious, Mikey lets Alice in—just for a moment—and before he knows what’s happening she’s wedged her foot in the door and busted his world wide open.

Alice leads him through a series of discoveries that make him look more closely at his own carefully constructed reality. Innocent yet knowing; kind yet devastatingly honest, Alice effortlessly unravels Mikey Warrender’s falsely safe world—and what really happened to Toby.

Review

This was such an original and fascinating story! The book was very different from what I expected but I ended up really enjoying it. I actually read it all in one sitting because I didn’t want to put it down.

The story opens with Alice England, the local undertaker’s daughter, preparing a body for a funeral. We learn that Alice has the power of resonance, where dead people’s momentos show stories from their lives to her. After Toby Warrender, a Sentor’s son, dies from an overdose, Alice has a vision that suggests he wasn’t willing to take the drugs that killed him.

Together with Michael, Toby’s twin, Alice sets off on a quest to figure out the mystery and to learn who Tobias really was. Their journey is a coming-of-age story that reads very realistically and deals with complex situations and emotions. In regard to the characters, I loved how the author made all of the main characters so complex and three-dimensional. They were entirely believable because of how flawed and imperfect they were. While I wasn’t a fan of some of the character’s actions (namely Michael), I was surprisingly invested in what happened to them.

Even though I guessed who the murderer was about two-thirds of the way through, I remained interested in the plot until the very last page  (which is really saying something because if I guess correctly, I usually skim the rest of the book). The way the murder mystery plot unravels is on the slower side. However, that works in this book as the characters balance the investigation, school, and other life occurrences.

This novel wove in modern life in a nearly seamless fashion in both the investigation and the character’s lives. Additionally, the author portrays the price of modern-day fame in a very realistic manner. From Michael’s fame-seeking sister to his “fixer” cousin, the darker side of fame is examined. I’m not usually a fan of more contemporary novels but this one read like a classic character-based murder mystery that just happened to be set in this time period.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to seeing what Alice England does next.

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