Stand Alone: Published 2/16/15
I own a copy of this book.
Riley Conner wasn’t worried about going through the woods. She had done it all school year and had forgotten about her earlier thoughts of being stalked. In her mind, she was safe, away from danger. But as soon as she heard a crunch of leaves and the familiar sense of another presence, all the stalker theories came tumbling back. She remembered trying to run, but being grabbed from behind. She had tried to break away, escape, but the second a warm cloth was pressed to her face, she knew it was over. In the struggle, the trees had swallowed her diary. She wondered now if anyone would ever find it, read it, realize how ignorant she was, and then decide she deserved to be kidnapped. Greg: Riley’s missing. To me, she was a stranger. A girl whose name I didn’t even recognize. But when I saw her picture and realized our pasts had once entwined, I knew I would have to find her.
This is the first book by a local indie author from my area, I have heard she has a second book being published soon and I am most definitely getting my hands on a copy of that one as well. I was really blown away by the writing and story telling skill of Ms. Birks. I believe this comes from a point I have made in other reviews, Ms. Birks is a reader, and when an author is an avid reader it shines through in their own work. When you crawl inside different worlds on a regular basis you learn what makes a good story with compelling multi-dimensional characters, but also how to piece together and more importantly how to reveal a captivating plot. You also get a regular dose of what doesn’t work. Ms. Birks shows us in her first book that she has done her homework and learned how to tell a good story.
Most of this shorter novel, it is only 161 pages, is told from the perspective of Greg, but we also get to check in with Riley but mostly through her diary entries read by Greg. Later in the book we get to delve into the mind of the monster responsible for Riley’s disappearance as he fills in valuable background information. The three main characters were some of the best developed I’ve read in first-book authors in some time. Ms. Birks does a great job giving them motivation and history and shows, not tells, us aspects of their personality that brings the characters to life. Even the supporting cast of characters were well thought out and added much to the overall story arch.
The plot was the first thing that really impressed me though. It was quite complex with all sorts of threads that twisted and turned as they wove their way through the pages. I love stories like this, those moments where you see all the pieces come together and you learn how everyone is linked. I did see who the ‘bad-guy’ was before it was discovered in text, but I think it was meant to be that way. The love-story aspect of the plot was well done too. No pointless love triangles that are so popular, annoying and overdone. This one was quite sweet and Ms. Birks kept us guessing till the very end about how things would end up.
This book doesn’t have any classifications on Goodreads, but I would list it as YA, a mystery/thriller with a little light romance thrown in. It is a bit darker tale, but not graphic.
This is a great read, that is only available online, for the vast majority of my followers, and you can find the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. I hope that many of you give this young, did I forget to mention the author is only 15 years old, indie author a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed. She has some serious talent and I hope she continues to share her stories with us. I can’t wait to see what she does next!
My Rating: 5 Stars