Max Cantrell is no stranger to the well-crafted lie. He thinks nothing of it when his best friend Preston and girlfriend Parvati suggest starting a little side business to make extra money that involves crafting well thought out lies and alibis for fellow high school students. What’s a forged permission slip or cover story in the grand scheme of things? Things are going great and the money is pouring in until Preston needs a lie of his own to cover a trip to meet a girl he met online. Max hooks him up but finds himself in hot water when Preston never returns home and his dead body turns up. Looking every bit the guilty suspect, Max must find Preston’s real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Woah. This book is all sorts of trippy. It’s got just about everything you could possibly ask for in a gritty contemporary suspense/thriller. Entitled teens with too much time and money on their hands? Check. A diverse cast of characters that are more than cookie-cutter images? Check. More ups and downs than a roller coaster? Check. I mean it- this book has everything.
What stands out the most in this incredibly well crafted story is the deft plotting. I mean, it is absolutely tight in every way, with convoluted, yet totally believable twists and turns on every page. Paula Stokes is an expert plotter. It is mind-bending in its originality and kept me guessing until the very end. I absolutely did not see that ending coming, and I love to be surprised.
I loved Max as the main character and found him highly likable; despite his tendencies to lie and cheat to get what he wants. When it comes down to it, he’s unreliable in many ways, but his heart is in the right place. Speaking of unreliable, Parvati is by far the most interesting character I’ve encountered in YA in a long time. There’s something not altogether right about her- from her secrets to her thought process. Something about a character that might have some sort of personality disorder driving her every decision was incredibly appealing to me, and I loved the dramatic tension it lends to the story. Max is enthralled by her, and for good reason, yet you can’t completely trust her. It’s all quite delicious.
With an intricately plotted mystery and diverse cast of characters, this book is completely engaging. I read it one sitting because I was absolutely unable to put it down. Each chapter ended, leaving me desperate to turn the page to find out what happened next. This book will thrill fans of mysteries and thrillers, and will keep them guessing until the very end.