I can't talk about the plot of this book in much detail. There's a lot to discover, and it's far better to learn the whole truth of Annaliese through reading. This is one of those situations where getting spoiled could entirely ruin the experience. I should also point out that there are shifting timelines, and those parts of the book can happen very suddenly. You have to be ready to roll with the punches in the book. For me, the first time it happened I was a bit thrown, but I was ready for it the next time it happened.
What I can talk about is the feel of the book, the sense of getting thrown off balance every fifty pages or so. Annaliese's memory is a blank as the book begins, so she's learning at the same pace as the reader. And it takes nearly the entire length of the book to learn the whole truth of who and what and why she is. Not that every question is answered within the pages of the book. If you hate loose ends, this is the sort of book that will frustrate you. But if you can take and are even intrigued by a book that deliberately leaves things unexplained to the reader (they are, after all, unexplained to Annaliese, and we shouldn't expect them to be), then that's a point in this book's favor.
More points for the characters, particularly our narrator. Annaliese starts from a very vulnerable position, naturally. No memory, apparently victim of a horrible crime, and being sent to live with people she is told are her parents but she can't remember nor have any immediate feelings for. And she shows that vulnerability, but she is by no means a weak character. I would describe her as someone determined to find herself in a stable life, but not someone willing to let others do that work for her. As a character, I found her fully believable. And the same goes for the secondary characters, particularly her parents. Quinn definitely thought about the impact this scenario (a vanished child returns after a year missing) would have on a loving family.
There is romance, of course. This is YA. Luckily, the romance developed at a believable pace and for believable reasons. No instalove! I understand what Annaliese sees in Dex, and what he sees in her. And it doesn't distract from the main point of the story. The romance doesn't take over the rest of the book, which is probably the main reason I like it. It's not that I have a problem with romance, I just don't like it taking over stories when I should be able to concentrate on what are, in the context of the book, much more important things.
I was just riveted by this book, especially towards the end. I read it mostly during my lunch break at work, and at the end of my breaks surprised both by how quickly lunch had gone by and how much I'd managed to read in that time. And that's why I'm bumping up this 4.5 star book to 5 stars. It isn't perfect, but it is wonderful.
I won an ARC of this book from The Midnight Garden
blog. Thanks, guys! I loved it!