The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic.
Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him?
The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
Discovery: I tried Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy but was never really hooked. I was intrigued by this novel’s small-town setting and figured it was worth a shot.
+ Unexpected twists. I didn’t know what I expected from this book, but it definitely intrigued me, plot-wise. The story slides along at a careful pace, giving the reader tentative peeks into the town’s secret but without revealing it all at once. The secret itself is creepy, but could have used some more exposition.
– Monotone storytelling. While the story itself can send some chills down one’s back, the way it’s told leaves much to be desired. It’s a slow pace without much excitement. I sped through this book in an hour, mostly because I just wanted to skip everything and know what happened to Nico and Tiffany.
I do think that the tone must have been set this way to lull the reader into a silent fear, but it does sink into boring territory more than once. I suppose I was looking for a sense of urgency about the disappearances, but Kendall’s point-of-view feels so dreamy and bored that it never quite appears.
– Untapped characters. I never really felt like I knew Kendall or any of the other characters. At worst, they seem to be cardboard small-town characters, without anything to contribute to the story. Kendall’s OCD is barely described, and it never feels real. Anyone with a relatively strong neat freak gene could have her symptoms. Jacien is the exception: he’s mysterious, he’s flawed and he never gets enough page time.
Recommendations: Readers looking for a horrifying story to keep them up at night won’t be too impressed, though it’s an okay read.