... a book that kept me reading late into the night ... Even as I read the different accounts of the days leading up to the fateful sleepover, it was clear that no one was telling the truth, and I knew I couldn’t take anything at face value. Some readers might find this style of storytelling a bit frustrating, but I was completely captivated from start to finish. I love a good puzzle, and Ms. Gudenkauf provided me with one of the best I’ve come across in quite some time ... It’s sometimes difficult to keep large casts of characters straight in your head, especially when each of them is relaying a slightly different version of events. Fortunately, Ms. Gudenkauf has managed to make each of the people in this story unique and three-dimensional ... I was literally in awe of the twists the author incorporated into this novel ... The way things wrapped up shocked me in the very best way ... It’s everything I love in a novel of psychological suspense and then some, and it’s literally one of the best things I’ve read so far this year.
Heather Gudenkauf takes a story that has many elements seen in other novels and gives it a fresh spin by telling the story from different perspectives and times ... The narrative jumps back and forth in time, forcing the reader to make personal judgments while also showing how social media and bullying can literally create a monster.
... this isn’t a simple ripped-from-the-headlines story. Gudenkauf complicates the narrative, tossing in red herrings and pointing readers to several possible killers before finally revealing the surprising truth in the book’s final pages. The true identity of Cora’s attacker comes as a gut punch, but it’s a twist that makes perfect sense given all that’s come before ... The story speeds along at a brisk pace --- many readers will want to finish the book in one sitting --- though at times Gudenkauf seems to be merely skimming the surface with some of her many characters ... Gudenkauf, who works in education, has a keen sense of the trials and tribulations of adolescence. The picture she draws of life in the crucible of junior high is a dark one, but it doesn’t fail to fascinate.
... scintillating ... Each girl’s personality, shaped by her home life and the events that led to this violent episode, skillfully unfolds through text messages, journal entries, therapist’s notes, and police interrogations. The stunning plot builds to a chillingly realistic ending. Only one girl may be harmed physically, but each is forever scarred. Gudenkauf is at the top of her game.
There are interesting layers of psychology at work here, but it can be exhausting inhabiting the world of these teenage girls, so concerned about appearances, so protective of their own secrets. There is truth there, certainly, but little entertainment ... Draws a rather grim portrait of the trials and battles of adolescence—taken to the extreme.