Book Review: A Good Idea

goodideaFinley and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.

Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of A Good Idea by Penguin Teen for review, but this in no way affected my final rating.

At first, I was weary that this would be a typical high school/teen drama, egged on by a “rebellious” main character. However, the deeper I got into the story, the more I threw that assumption out the window. While I couldn’t completely relate to Finley, she was still easy to connect with, and the plot kept me guessing with surprise little twists at every turn. Overall, I’d recommend this book to any YA reader who likes a dark, deep thrill.

The Good

Like I said, I couldn’t relate to Fin 100 percent, because I didn’t have the drug and alcohol-fueled senior year that teenagers like her do. However, I was still able to connect with her, because you constantly feel her heartbreak and increased cynicism after suddenly losing her best friend. Plus, she can be funny as hell, in a sarcastic-snarky kind of way.

I also enjoyed the twists throughout the book; they were big enough to keep me guessing, yet small enough that they didn’t seem contrived or overly fantastical. There were several details throughout the story that creeped me out, or angered me, or made me reflect on certain things (especially regarding small-town drug abuse and mental health), and I think that kind of emotional response is important in a book that delves into those realms.

The vibe of the story was also interesting. I’m used to thrillers being suspenseful because of the main character’s tangible fear, but Finley was almost never afraid. In fact, the apathy is what kept me on my toes; I wasn’t sure what she was or wasn’t willing to do next.

The Bad

I personally thought part of the ending went a little overboard on the drama, detracting from what I liked about the small twists throughout the book. I obviously won’t say what part in order to avoid spoilers, but so many things got compounded that I wished at least one thing would have gone differently.

Also, as a note, I’ve heard that people thought there was too much drug use and casual sex going on, but as someone who went to high school in a small town in Texas, I can tell you that it was pretty realistic. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for me, but if stuff like that bothers you, then you won’t enjoy it.

The Verdict

I think the main thing to convey is that this thriller is a psychological slow-burn, so if you’re looking for an action-packed, panic-inducing experience, you’ll most likely be disappointed. I’m not experienced enough with noir to discuss that specifically, but it does have that vibe, making it different and interesting enough that I’d recommend it (based on reader preference). There were also several important themes that the author successfully made me reflect on.

Rating: ★★★★

 

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