Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen and The Secret of Othello: A Fisher Key Adventure by Sam Cameron

| Saturday, August 18, 2012
EnvyEnvy by Gregg Olsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So this book is not what I expected at all. This is the story of cyber-bullying, but not in any way you normally think it will happen.

Blurb from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with Empty Coffin, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.
Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.
Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.
Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.

I have to say that I do not read many books written by male authors. It is not because I don't like male authors, but there just seem to be so many more female ones out there. I was happy to pick this one up. And the premise of this book is something that is near and dear to every parent who has a child in this day and age: cyber bullying. It is something that is real and something of which every parent should have an understanding. I really love that the story is based on true events

There is a large cast of characters in this book, so I will not talk about them all but I will say they are well developed. I was really able to connect with them. I could feel their emotions: their fear, their angst, their connection to one another.

The main characters are Haley and Taylor, twins who reside next door to Katelyn Berkley. When Katelyn mysteriously dies, they know that something is just not right, and they are determined to figure out exactly what it was that lead to her death. But these girlsare not your ordinary teens, though. Their connection to things other-worldly makes them special. Throughout the book you can feel the evil undertone. You can feel that something is lurking that is outside of the world as we know it. Throughout the book, they focus on the "clues" Katelyn left behind, in the hopes of finding the truth and allowing her soul to rest.

Each chapter of this book gives differing view points of the "crime" as experienced by the people who surrounded this young woman. Their relationships with her are painted from all perspectives: anger, fear, sadness. You get the feeling that Katelyn was a lonely girl, who had withdrawn from the few friends she did have. When she gets the popular girl in trouble, she pays for it dearly, or so it seems. I have to say that the differing points of view sometimes felt disjointed to me, and I was sometimes lost. But the story line was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading.

Olsen certainly has control of writing. His descriptions are real and accurate. You can feel, smell, and even taste the tensions and other emotions emoting from the characters as they process the death of a young lady in their small community. And the events that unfold are not at all what you think they are going to be, so the mystery keeps you wanting more.

I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to read the ARC copy of Betrayl that I have sitting on my self.

3 out of 5 stars for me.

Review also posted on the following sites:

View all my reviews The Secret of Othello: A Fisher Key AdventureThe Secret of Othello: A Fisher Key Adventure by Sam Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I want to thank Net Galley and Bold Stroke Books for providing me with an ebook ARC of this book to read for an honest review.

Blurb from Goodreads:

A shooting star streaks across Fisher Key’s skies. Natural phenomenon or secret military satellite? For Steven Anderson, any mystery is a welcome distraction. He’s vowed to avoid all the island’s pretty girls until the SEALs approve his waiver request. Unfortunately his libido—and the girls—have other ideas. Meanwhile, Denny Anderson is busy wooing the boy of his dreams. If he plans things right, he won’t be the only virgin entering the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Too bad every romantic rendezvous is ruined by misunderstandings, interruptions, and pesky tourists. As the days get hotter, the twins are drawn into an underwater race against time, tide, and treason. Suddenly, true love is the least of their problems. Under the waves, no one can hear you scream…

When I requested this book, I did not realize it was a sequel to a previous book written about these same characters. I did not read the first book in this series and this may explain my reaction to the book. Honestly, I am not sure if there is a lot of background information in Mystery of the Tempest, but if there is it explains why I really could not connect with any of the characters in this book.

I like to think that I can envision characters in my head, figure out what they look like and let that give me an idea into the psyche. I did not feel this at all while reading this book. The characters all seemed very flat to me. I didn't see any development at all, no changes that make the characters more interesting or lead me to want to learn more about them. There was a definite difference in the personalities of the twins. Steven seems more of the go getter type, confident and outgoing, not to be messed with. Denny seems more passive and shy, easily persuaded and not one to really jump at what he wants. Other than these observations, I didn't really get a sense of what these characters looked like, why they wanted to take positions in the military, what drove them towards that goal.

I also felt like nothing really happened until the last 80% of this book. I was just reading along, not really getting a sense of where anything was going. Not getting a sense of the fact that some of the characters were bad guys. The twins didn't seem suspicious of anyone. The introduction of Tristan and her father seemed like a way to expand the story more, rather than a way to move it along and get you curious as to the mystery that was supposed to be unfolding. Then all of a sudden, BOOM, action starts happening.

Cameron does have a clear sense of how to write. There is no doubt about that. The flow of the story was interesting enough. But I didn't want to jump into it and not put it down. I wanted to read a bit here and then a bit there until I finished it.

All in all I found the story lacking in much, tho I can't even put my finger on exactly what that is!

2.5 out of 3 stars for this book.

Review also posted on the following sites:

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