Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Frances Mace survived the sinking of The Penelope, but she shouldn't have. The only other survivors have both lied about that night, and left her to watch her friend die.
Four years later, Frances has adopted her friend's life and identity, moving back to settle the events of The Penelope once and for all. Her plan is simple, get close to the other two survivors and manipulate the truth from them. If only her heart didn't once belong to the younger survivor.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read:December 31, 2018
I got this back in freshman year because I heard that it was supposed to be pretty good and that the mystery was really solid. It was really cheap on Book Outlet, so I thought it'd be worth buying, and I finally got around to reading it at the end of 2018.
From the moment this started, I was really confused and thought that the beginning could be better written. It took me awhile to actually get into the book, making me re-think my choice to read this as my last book of the year. I wanted it to be more exciting, but it just felt like a really mediocre beginning to a supposedly intense mystery.
Once all the pieces had been laid out and I knew the whole premise of the mystery, I started to wonder where the story was going. It was clear what the answer to the mystery was, and it was just a matter of Frances' revenge plan coming to fruition. The plan of revenge felt really simple in comparison to how much Frances' was hyping up her brilliance.
There are a lot of things going on with the fact that Frances' takes the identity of her friend, who died in the lifeboat. People think she's her friend, and there are other characters who get too close to Frances, not knowing who she really is. In the middle of all that is her struggle to figure out who she is now, having pretended to be someone else for years and metaphorically killing herself on the lifeboat. It had so much potential to be this really intricate struggle for an understanding of identity, but the end result fell really flat for me. I had a hard time buying the struggle because it felt so superficial, and it wasn't a bit enough plot point until later in the book.
The writing style didn't really do it for me. It felt simple in comparison to a lot of other books I've read. I know this is YA, but I've read other books in this age group that have more complex writing styles. Maybe this author just naturally had a simplistic style, but it really wasn't doing it for me. I wanted something that felt deeper, something that would let me connect better with the characters.
Plot wise, I saw a lot of things coming and mostly felt bored. I felt like a lot of the plot had been given away in the beginning, so there was very little left to shock me. That's probably also because I've just read so many mysteries over the years that this wasn't doing it for me, but I also think that it needed more conflict and a more complicated mystery. When things started falling in place, it felt really convenient that suddenly there was this magical moment that unlocked everything and made it all smooth sailing from that point onward.
The romance also felt really forced to me. I was supposed to believe that Frances' first love was someone she spent less than a week with, and that she still harbored legitimate feelings for him four years later. Somehow, he was also supposed to have some deep-seated feelings for her that never went away either. There's also the weird complication of Frances pretending to be someone else and trying to make her old love fall in love with the person she's pretending to be, and trying not to regain feelings for him as Frances. It's weird and complicated, I know. And then there's someone else, kind of but not really. It's all just a really weird mess of things that make up a romance that I wasn't fond of because it felt really superficial and cheap.
What made it worth the three stars for me was that it was a pretty quick read. Being so simple and predictable, I had an easy time getting through the pages. It was a book I could easily skim because the content was easy and I had no trouble keeping up with what was going on. In the end, I think it's something I'm going to either donate or sell to a second-hand bookstore.
Frances was actually pretty frustrating because so much of her motivation felt really juvenile. She had a solid plan, but the way she went about it was so childish. It was really hard to be in her head the entire time because her voice sounded so immature to me.
I actually don't remember the names of any other characters, so that shows you how memorable they were to me.
3 stars. It's really not worth picking up, to me at least. Perhaps I'm aging out of YA a little, but this just felt way too simple for me.