Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Publisher: Splinter
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011

New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with EMPTY COFFIN, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.

Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits. 

Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined. 

Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book is definitely a book that I picked up because of the cover.  I mean, do they come any creepier?  I get the heebie-jeebies just looking at it.  Being the cover whore that I am, I was drawn to it.  It just screamed "must read" at me.  I had never heard of Gregg Olsen, and to be honest I've never been a huge fan of the True Crime genre; it's just too real and graphic for me, but because of the cover and the interesting synopsis I gave it a shot.  Well, I am happy to report that it was a fantastic read!

This was Gregg Olsen's 1st YA book, and I think he has a knack for it.  I've not read his other True Crime novels, but the ones I have read by other authors were horribly graphic and not meant for younger readers, so I wondered how this might play out.  Olsen manages to tone down the horrifying details to the point where it's fine for YA readers without losing the absolute bone-chilling, seat-gripping suspense that the TC genre is famous for.  I started this book at 10:30-11:00pm and I regretted it the next day... The creep-out factor in the first several chapters makes this book positively unputdownable.  It was like an unseen force was holding my eyelids open and turning the pages.  I had a undeniable need to know what would happen next.  I stayed up most of the night reading; at 2:30am, I forced myself to turn out the lights because I had to be up in 3 hours to start my day as a mom of three, but then I couldn't sleep.  I couldn't stop thinking about the book.  As soon as my kids were off to school and my basic needs of coffee, eating, and showering were met, I was back at it.  I finished it right before my first kid got off the bus; I got nothing else done for that day, and it was worth it!  This book was well written, and had a familiar story, but with a few twists.  Not at all what I expected, but much, much better.  Gregg Olsen has earned himself a fan in me.  To be able to write True Crime for a younger audience, with the appropriate amount of horrifying detail, while at the same time not dumbing it down, takes talent!  I can't wait for the second book in the Empty Coffin series to come out!  I will be pre-ordering it for sure!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  There is an element of truth here and some fairly graphic scenes, although nothing over the top.  There are some implied acts that are rather awful as well.  I would make my own daughter (she's 10) wait a year or two to read this, but not longer because there are great lessons to be learned about cyber-bullying in the excitement of the story.  Ages 12+ (7th grade and up).

Side note, and this is me speaking as a parent... I appreciate Gregg taking on the issue of bullying (when you read the book, you'll understand what I'm talking about) in his 1st YA book.  So many adults do not really take bullying seriously enough because they don't understand how much worse it is now than even when I was in high school (Class of '94).  Technologhy is a total game game changer.  Facebook, IM, Twitter, MySpace- social networking is not the wave of the future anymore, but a way for anonymous bullying to run rampant if allowed.  People don't always realize how the "little" things they say and do can set off a chain of events that can end tragically. The thought process is even more diluted when they don't have to say/do these things face-to-face.  This book does a great job showcasing this in a non-preachy sort of way that could very well get through to its audience.

**Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a copy of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson!!  It ends at 12:01am November 10th.  Click HERE for details.**

1 comment:

  1. This cover gives me the shiver every time I see it! I love those books that you just can't put down and that make you forget all the other things you have to do.

    I'm definitely going to be reading Envy. It sounds so good!


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