Review: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger


Are You Still There
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, "perfect student" Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber's identity.

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

When the first chapter of a book focuses on a girl trapped in a toilet whilst the whole school is on lock-down because of a genuine bomb threat, you expect the rest of that book to be just as exhilarating. In fact, if the first few pages hadn't been so darned good I may have taken this book as what it was probably meant to be - a simple attempt at looking at the perpetrators of school massacres, and the other students who are indirectly affected. Instead, I saw this book as shallow, without plot and somewhat underwhelming.

Are You Still There was a book I couldn't wait to get into when I first got it and stupidly I thought I had already posted my review before now. (I hadn't). I read it over a day, and whilst I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but feel very let down. This book wasn't thrilling  - it had mystery which was covered up by the attempted romance - it just fell flat. The characters fell flat. The plot fell flat. The ending though - the big reveal - was the worst let down.

(Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers for the ending)

What is the point of building up all of the mystery if the perpetrator in the end is some guy who was mentioned in passing once and never a suspect. The joy of mystery thriller books is having suspects and thiking of their motives and guessing towards the end but still second guessing yourself! I didn't get that with this book.

As much as I enjoyed reading Stranger's little monologues, they got boring rather than creepy after a while and I never felt like this book was putting across the message it intended. Bullying is bad, it results in school bombings? If you want to find out who is at fault, put kids in charge? If you get given tips, don't tell the relevant authorities?

Why do so many YA characters take it on themselves to solve violent crime? Does anyone actually do this?

Overall Rating: D+

Book released 1st September 2015 by Albert Whitman
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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