Author: April Henry

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted July 6, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
Published by Christy Ottaviano Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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2 Stars

When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Ok… I think I’ve officially given up on April Henry. This is my third book from her and I haven’t liked any of them. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve given her books this many chances, although they are usually very short and very fast reads, so maybe I keep trying because her books are easy to get through if I’m behind on my Goodreads goal. Wow. That sounds harsh. And don’t get me wrong, I think young teens might really enjoy them. I just think they read a little younger than most YA mysteries I’ve read and loved over the years (like Dangerous Girls, for example).

I feel like there was not much thought put into this story. Things seemed very flat, and the characters all very shell-like… the kind of stock characters that get thrown into stories to fill roles but not connect with you or make you feel anything. The story itself was not suspenseful or exciting, and the anticlimactic ending left me wondering why I even bothered wasting my time. Everything that did happen felt very convenient, as though there was a checklist of things that needed to happen for the book to end when it was time to end. Many things felt unbelievable to me as well. A 17 year old doesn’t just move herself into a new town and start interrogating all these strangers about the intimate details of the lives of her murdered parents without raising some suspicion. Why did these people even talk to her at all, much less tell her the things that they did? I don’t understand. Everything ended so quickly, but nothing was really explained. Rather than tying up loose ends and explaining why things happened, the author cut those loose ends off bluntly and chose to not explain anything at all. It could have been better. Maybe not much better, but almost anything would have been better than what I got.

So… Goodbye, April Henry. I had such high hopes for finding a YA author that writes a ton of mysteries because I LOVE THEM, but unfortunately I’ll have to keep looking for an author that puts a little more thought into their stories. I did like the appeal of Henry’s short mysteries because sometimes I just want a quick escape, but I’d rather read a longer novel that is more complex, more thought out, less convenient, and more exciting.

2 Stars

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 27, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Body in the Woods by April Henry
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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1 Stars

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

*sigh* Maybe April Henry and I just aren’t the best match? I don’t know! I love mysteries. LOVE them. They are all I’ve been wanting to read lately. And sadly, The Body in the Woods did nothing for me. I thought the idea had potential, but I was also worried that reading about teenage detectives would cause the “you-have-to-suspend-a-lot-of-logic” disease. It did. I felt that the entire story was improbable, and that made me focus less on the story and more on the details that made me go, “Ummm… No, that would never happen.” And I know that this book was inspired by a real teen volunteer search and rescue team, but still. I felt like the kids in this book got into way too much danger, went against the police officers they were working with way too often, and basically took over the entire investigation. I can’t imagine real life teenagers getting into the kinds of situations the teens in this book did.

At times I felt like I was reading an episode of CSI or any other crime drama on TV. I drowned in the endless details of how the characters performed searches, etc. I usually love detail, but the writing was so uninteresting and almost mechanical. There was no fluidity from sentence to sentence, and frequently there wasn’t even continuity between chapters. I liked the idea of the story being told from multiple perspectives (those of the three teens), but they were written in such a way that I never connected with the characters. When they spoke to each other or to officers, they spoke in a way that made them sound like they had memorized their training manuals and were just regurgitating information in the hopes that they were right. This made them come off as immature, leaving me to believe even LESS in their abilities as members of a search and rescue team.

The mystery seemed very thinly weaved. I knew who the culprit was almost immediately. His chapters were the most interesting, and I wished I had been more in his head than in the heads of our manual-reciting teenagers. The why’s were not given much attention, and I was never entirely clear on the motives of the culprit. I found it odd that the mystery would not have been solved if these kids had not been involved, yet they caused so many additional problems for the police that they seemed useless at times. Are the police really supposed to be that dumb? They arrested someone early on in the story with no actual evidence, and then closed the case. They had nothing on him except that he was making drugs. Drugs does not equal serial killer. When I think of all the times I’ve heard of the bad guy getting away on a technicality or a screw-up regarding the handling of evidence, I have NO idea why this guy was arrested at all. I just did not believe it.

Maybe I am just too old and skeptical to enjoy this book. Maybe I possess too much common sense, have read too many intricate and nail-biting mysteries, or have watched way too many crime dramas. Perhaps a younger audience would love this. Perhaps someone capable of suspending their disbelief would enjoy it as well. I just could not stop thinking how unbelievable this story was, not to mention the endless technical details and play-by-plays had my gasping for air. I felt completely disconnected from the story, and I’m super disappointed about that. I would not recommend this title to potential readers.

1 Stars

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted August 18, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 213
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

I have been on a real YA mystery kick lately, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was the next one on my list. The premise sounded pretty exciting, and I had a feeling I would fly through it pretty quickly. I gobbled up the entire book in about two hours, which is pretty rare for me. April Henry laid the book out in such a way that you could not help but continue to read way past your bedtime. The chapters are short, the story never stops, and she wrote it in short, choppy sentences that made me read a lot faster than I usually do.

While I did read it super fast, and the book really kept me interested and intrigued, it was not the most memorable of mysteries. I feel like the kidnapped heroine frequently has amnesia in stories like these, and that plot element is getting pretty worn out. I know that in some cases it adds more mystery and excitement, but I feel like it’s a bit of an easy way out. There are many other ways to create a suspenseful mystery, and I would have liked to see something new. Amnesia also prevents readers from really getting to know and caring about the character, which is not always necessary in a mystery, but would have been nice in this case.

The main guy of the story, Ty, is a very likeable character, but I had a hard time believing that he would put himself in so much danger, skip school, and spend all of his money on a girl he doesn’t know at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a charitable enough person, but I was really surprised at how quick he was to believe everything she said and make himself a target for the men after her. There was a little interest, but no romance at all, so I’m just surprised at how conveniently he fell into her life and pretty much saved her.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit until the huge info dump regarding biochemical and biological weapons. Things became even more outlandish and unbelievable as I began to learn who Cady was, why she was wanted, and what she had to do in order to fix everything. Things wrapped up so easily and seamlessly, even though these events in real life would have been a lot messier. I began to think of the book as science fiction, which helped me.

All in all, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is enjoyable and entertaining as long as you are willing to turn a blind eye to certain details and suspend quite a bit of disbelief. The characters and storyline are not memorable and the resolution comes faster and neater than I was expecting. I have read stronger mysteries, but April kept me reading late into the night and I’ll give her credit for that!

3 Stars