YA Review: As Good As Dead

Title: As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3)
Author: Holly Jackson
Edition:
Paperback
Rating:
5/5

The final book in the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder trilogy was a must-read for me. I enjoyed the first two books, and I was looking forward to meeting schoolgirl detective Pip Fitz-Amobi, her boyfriend Ravi, her wonderfully supportive family, and the residents of Little Kilton again for another investigation.

Pip isn’t intending to investigate another local mystery. She’s heading to university in Cambridge at the end of the summer, and she is still haunted by memories of her two previous cases. But when she unearths a connection between events in Little Kilton and a convicted serial killer, she can’t resist digging deeper.

Throughout the book her relationship with Ravi continues to develop, and they make an adorable couple. It is wonderful to see the friends she’s made, and the people she’s helped during her investigations come together to support her – but she’s made enemies as well as friends, and her list of local suspects keeps growing.

The case quickly becomes personal, and the stakes are higher than ever as Pip works to connect the fragments of evidence and find out what really happened – and who is threatening her as she goes public with another true-crime podcast.

I’ve enjoyed all three books in the series, but this is definitely the best. We are drawn into Pip’s investigation, and to the danger she faces. There are some truly heart-pounding scenes, and plenty of tension, deception, and eureka moments. Pip’s reactions to her previous cases and the lasting trauma she carries with her feel real – she’s not a hard-boiled detective, and we never lose sight of the fact that she’s still a teenager, at the very beginning of her adult life. As she unearths evidence, she is also discovering which adults, and which authority figures, can be trusted – and who has something to hide.

You’ll need to read the first two books in order to understand the context for this story, but the series is perfect for binge reading. Highly recommended!

Have you read As Good As Dead? What did you think of the final book in the series? Do you want more from Pip, or are you happy that the story ends here? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: I Know When You’re Going to Die

Title: I Know When You’re Going to Die
Author: Michael J Bowler
Edition:
Paperback
Rating:
4/5

Michael J Bowler’s tightly paced thriller begins with a gift. Leo is volunteering at homeless shelter, when one of the men gives him the power to see someone’s death when he looks into their eyes. The old man tells him to make wise choices, assures Leo that he’s the right person to take on this gift, and then dies, leaving Leo without guidance or advice. I would call this book ‘wholesome teen horror’ – and I realise I’m going to have to explain myself!

Leo is a shy rich kid in a school of rich students. He never looks anyone in the eye, so it takes effort to test his gift for the first time. His best friend Juan Carlos (J.C.) encourages him to look into the eyes of strangers on the street and in shops, testing his visions and trying to decide whether Leo can really see what he claims to see. The proof arrives uncomfortably quickly, and the boys must decide what to do with the information Leo has discovered. Can they stop a murder, or could getting involved be the trigger for a deadly shooting? When Leo accidentally looks into his friend’s eyes, they need to work together to uncover the circumstances of J.C.’s death, and find out whether they can prevent it.

There are plenty of twists and scares as the story progresses, and the two boys come up with a plan. With their friend Laura, fellow victim of the school bully, they piece together a way to keep J.C. safe, while setting a trap for the would-be killer. The climax of the story is exciting and scary, and with the identity of the killer in doubt, the friends must work together to protect each other and figure out who they need protection from.

So that’s the horror part – there’s a supernatural gift, genuine peril, and a haunted house – but what about the wholesome aspect of the story? Throughout the book, Leo, J.C. and Laura all demonstrate ideal behaviours, and their actions are contrasted with bullies, emotionally absent parents, a school principle who blames them for being bullied, kids who are more interested in partying than helping their community, and with the various killers and would-be killers Leo uncovers with his gift. They support each other, they defend each other from bullying, and they build strong relationships without any sexual overtones (Laura has a girlfriend, and Leo and J.C. have a strong, trusting friendship). The ending is emotional, putting their actions, and Leo’s ability, into a larger context, and there are consequences for the bad guys.

This is an exciting story. Michael J Bowler is a screenwriter as well as a novelist, and as I read the action sequences I could easily imagine them playing out on a movie screen. I loved the premise of Leo’s power, and the mysterious man who chooses him to receive it. The tension between Leo’s vision of J.C.’s death and their attempts to understand and prevent it keeps the pages turning. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and the positive representation of young people helping their communities and giving up their time to help others. There’s a strong moral steer in this book, but it doesn’t feel preachy. The engaging story presents the relatable characters as role models without making them perfect, providing a balance with the genuinely scary elements of the book. If thrilling cinematic wholesome teen horror appeals to you, this is a great place to start!

Have you read I Know When You’re Going to Die? What did you think of the story? What would you do if you had Leo’s power? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.