Published by Simon Pulse on July 7th 2015
Pages: 320 •Goodreads
They say Delia burned herself to death in her stepfather’s shed. They say it was suicide.
But June doesn’t believe it.
June and Delia used to be closer than anything. Best friends in that way that comes before everyone else—before guys, before family. It was like being in love, but more. They had a billion secrets, tying them together like thin silk cords.
But one night a year ago, everything changed. June, Delia, and June’s boyfriend, Ryan, were just having a little fun. Their good time got out of hand. And in the cold blue light of morning, June knew only this—things would never be the same again.
Now Delia is dead. June is certain she was murdered. And she owes it to her to find out the truth…which is far more complicated than she ever could have imagined.
“The world is only as fair as you make it.”
*Please note this review may contain some spoilers, both in and out of spoiler tags. You’ve been warned!
Sometimes I’m in a mood where nothing will appease my reading palate but a really good thriller. I’ve been on an ebook reading streak recently, and all of those books have happened to be heavier in their content and story lines. I decided to continue the streak with Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls as soon as I saw it become available on Overdrive, as the cover has always struck me as being really ominous and stunning at the same time. What ensued was a sort of reading frenzy that can only be described as addictive, as I found myself sneaking chapters whenever and wherever I could, despite ultimately being underwhelmed by the book’s plot twists and endings.
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls starts out with all of the makings of a good YA thriller: mysteriously dead classmate, estranged best friends, adults with questionable motives, and a protagonist driven to find answers. I initially found myself enjoying the first half of the book, watching June’s intense reactions to the news of Delia’s death, learning more about their troubled friendship through flashbacks, and slowly understanding how they grew apart and yet were still so emotionally tethered together. As the mystery plot line starts to form, I enjoyed seeing how the author molds June and Delia’s history to be so compulsive yet toxic at the same time. It’s scary yet believable, and the (disturbing) bonds that uphold their friendship really snake their way under your skin as a reader.
However, while I loved the emotional intensity of this book (disturbing as it may be), the second half of the book seemed to really spiral downward for me. I guessed the major plot twist pretty much the second I started reading the book View Spoiler »Let’s be honest, the whole “dead person isn’t actually dead but faked their own murder/suicide has been really overdone in literature lately. « Hide Spoiler While I enjoyed Weingarten’s prose style and her ability to write such unhinged characters alongside more normal ones, my suspension of disbelief really wore thin towards the end View Spoiler »I didn’t really buy that all of these teens who faked their deaths just had copious amounts of money to run around and live life as they pleased. And the fact that they had the “hacker genius” of the group who obtained all of this money for them? I am SO tired of that trope. « Hide Spoiler In the second half of the book we also meet a pivotal cast of secondary characters, who have all supposedly changed their identities to protect themselves from things they did in their past. Yet readers never get to learn what they did to drive them to such lengths, and their existence seemed more for plot convenience, which is a shame because they could have been really interesting if their backgrounds were divulged more (such as that glimpse we get of Sebastian, mournfully looking at the memorial page online for his former life).
I really love thrillers but I don’t read them nearly as often as I should. However, the few I have read really stand out to me, perhaps most notably Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Unfortunately, I felt that while it started off strong, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls felt too much like a less complex version of Haas’ novel, when it could’ve been strong had it taken more of its own direction. It also has an extremely ambiguous ending, which as a reader I personally find frustrating, because I generally want closure after investing hundreds of pages into a novel. The ending was so abrupt I thought I accidentally skipped the last chapter when I hit the acknowledgements page, and then had to scour the internet for discussion posts to try to infer what was the most likely outcome View Spoiler »I personally think Delia killed June because she was CRAZY and had really warped ideas about relationships, but its frustrating that I will NEVER KNOW. « Hide Spoiler
Overall: This book was compulsively readable, with convincing dual POV narration and vivid (if disturbing) characters. However, it fell short in plot twists and originality, and it’s vague, open ending made me feel a bit cheated considering how involved I became in the mystery. I love how it kept the running motif of the suicide notes throughout the novel and while the characters were unlikable they were darkly compelling. I hate leaving a book with more questions than answers, however, and that was the case with Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls for me.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge 2016