Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Rec: All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

All Unquiet ThingsSo far this year, I’ve read a lot of YA books, most of them very good. I’ve read three YA books so far, though, that I have to buy copies of to keep on my bookshelf for years to come: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin, and ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab.  They’re all very different types of YA novels (one thing you have to love about the genre is the diversity!).  The Hunger Games is dystopian; Impossible is an urban fantasy based on folklore, and All Unquiet Things is commercial fiction/mystery.

Today’s review is about All Unquiet Things (which you can win here, by the way).  It’s going to be short, like the ones for books I love usually are. Here’s the synopsis off

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

 What was so great about All Unquiet Things? First of all, the characters were believable, but also very smart kids.  I appreciate YA books with smart teens, especially ambitious smart teens.  There was great voice to the characters.  Even the character, Carly, who is dead at the start of the book, and that we meet only in flashbacks, comes through strong and sympathetic.  Anyone else a fan of Veronica Mars? All Unquiet Things reminded me of Veronica Mars – smart teens in a dark situation who’ll figure their way out of trouble (and make no mistake, All Unquiet Things is very dark!).   I had some issues with the transitions back and forth between characters, but the author clearly delineated the switches with separate, marked sections – it might just be an effect of my attention span!

Speaking of my attention span, the pacing of this book was also terrific. The tension was strong throughout, and the plot was surprisingly believable and not forced (something that is tricky with a mystery, but especially with a mystery being investigated by two teenagers). Bonus points for the disturbing and beautiful cover.

Here’s an excerpt, one of the early interactions between Neily and Audrey, from Neily's POV:
    “Whatever. Cell phone. Now.” I held out my hand, which she ignored.
    “Why would I have your cell phone?”
    “Actually, the question is, why would you steal my cell phone?”
    “I. Don’t have. Your cell phone. Maybe you dropped it or left it at home or something.” She gave me a phony smile, clutching her books to her chest like a beatific Norman Rockwell child.
    “Cute. But I know you do. And if you’d rather me not make a scene here, we can always take this up to Finch’s office. You know how much he likes a good afternoon he-said-she-said.”
    She narrowed her eyes at me, hesitating. I could tell she was weighing her options. If she told me what she wanted with my cell phone now, she risked deflating all the curiosity she had built up in me; on the other hand, if she kept playing dumb, I might actually take the matter to Finch – less because I wanted to rat her out than because I was bored.

This is a debut 2010 novel, but for me it's already a classic -- hence why it's getting a place in our rec room/library shelves already. And you too can have a copy for free if you stop by my 100+ follower giveaway, but you knew that already. ;) Even if you don't win, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy and reading All Unquiet Things.


Jen said...

I almost picked this title up at Barnes and Noble the other day but something else caught my eye. Thanks for the review, it makes me wish I had picked it up!!!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm dying to read this one (fingers crossed to maybe win it!). It sounds so good. :-)

Tracy said...

Too bad I didn't read this review before I went to Barnes & Noble this morning.

Anna M. said...

I'm going to order this one for the kids...and me!