Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari
Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.
She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.
Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I haven’t read many YA thrillers. I suppose you can count Anna Dressed in Blood, but that’s about it. I do enjoy a good science fiction or psychological thriller, and I was pretty excited to be given this ARC. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of originality in this one and I found it came short of my expectations.
First of all, the characters were very flat. The little we know of Ari before the incident is a single day glimpses into her life after school. We know she thinks this one guy is super hot, that she loves her best friend, and that she shops on her dad’d credit card. Lynn is a carbon copy except we know she has lots of siblings and she’s a lesbian. Then there’s Hot Guy (Stroud), Jerk (Jesse) … and that’s about it for our cast!
In a small town, it’s pretty easy to figure out who the killer is. We’re given such a small cast that even when we include the handful of adults, there’s only about 10 characters in this book. By process of elimination, you should know the killer at the 50% mark. Unfortunately, the cops aren’t taking any of it very seriously and when Ari tries to file a missing persons report, she’s patted on the head and told to shoo, essentially.
So that’s the story. Meet characters. Escape from unknown killer. Single-handedly go back to attack unknown killer and save friend without a plan. Win. The end. Quick, predictable, easy. Perspectives switch between Ari and the killer’s journal entries to add a little flavor.
I would like to point out a couple of small details that absolutely disgust me. First of all, Ari et al are dissecting cats in Biology. Um, wait, what?! So I Googled this, and apparently it’s not illegal but it IS still considered highly unethical and is uncommon. It’s such a small part of the story that frogs (which I dissect in high school) or piglets (which we dissected in college) would do just fine and not be so traumatic.
Secondly, there’s a homophobic slur used multiple times near the beginning of the book. Why?! If the author was trying to show that one of the characters was homophobic, there are other ways to do it than him yelling it out every time he walked by. It also goes mostly unchallenged. One time, Ari calls him out, then immediately everyone shrugs her off and it doesn’t even enter in though to call him out the next time. Just get rid of it!
A small thing, but an annoying one for reviewers – I understand that ARCs are unfinished and that’s fine, but it would be really nice to have the text formatted properly. The line breaks were ridiculous. It makes the work a lot easier to read when things are formatted before being sent out to reviewers. This definitely isn’t the worst I’ve read, but it wasn’t good.
Alright, after all that ranting, I’ve got to be honest. There’s groundwork for a decent book here. The writing isn’t horrible to read, so there’s potential for this to be rounded out into a better story. It just needs some depth. As this is an ARC, it’s possible that the final copy will have more complex characters and remove the offensive bits. I really hope so. As it is now, I cannot recommend this book.