Also by this author: Violent Ends, The Project
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 4, 2018
Pages: 378 •Format: E-ARC •Source: NetGalley
A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial-like podcast following the clues she's left behind.
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.
I literally just finished Sadie about ten minutes before writing this review, and all I can say is…damn. What did I just read? My mind is reeling from the ending and the unsettling nature of the story and the desperation that pervaded the lives of all of the characters…It’s hard to find a book that not only offers something new in terms of plot but also in terms of format, and Sadie does both. Unafraid to tackle terrible, disturbing circumstances, the narrative is brought to life not only by chapters in Sadie’s point of view, but by a mixed media format that breaks up the chapters with a true-crime podcast transcript, as West McCray follows Sadie’s case in a narrative that runs parallel to her own. Sadie was a truly unique reading experience and one that I’m going to be thinking about long, long after the day I finished the novel.
If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts at all, you’ll know there’s a formula to so many of them- a cold case, usually set in a small town, a big-city journalist who somehow trips across the story, who then becomes emotionally invested and hopes to crack the case (or at least breathe new life into it) and takes listeners on the journey with them. Sadie captures the tone and feel of these true crime podcasts perfectly, and Summers does an amazing job of balancing the podcast transcripts with the actual first person POV narratives from Sadie herself. Wednesday Books is even putting out episodes of the podcast from the book that you can listen to every week leading up to the book’s release, and I listened to the first one and it’s so well done- if you didn’t know better, you’d definitely liken it to Serial or Up and Vanished.
Aside from the podcast element (which you can obviously tell I’m very excited about), Sadie was a story that was so raw, so unsettling, that it was hard to read, and yet at the same time I was loathe to put it down. I flew through it obsessively, knowing it was fiction, but feeling like it was a cold case that really existed, that the events really mattered and that West could really possibly help and/or save Sadie. And Sadie…I was equal parts in awe and furious with her, she possessed such a rawness and recklessness and desperation that I’ve never seen in a YA protagonist, and it was hard to be inside her head more often than not. Summers explores a kind of desolation that so many readers will not be familiar with- abuse and addiction and, over and over again, what it’s like to be really and truly hungry, that the story will have you suffocating in a life that may not be real, but that will feel all too vivid by the time you are done reading.
While I initially was hesitant with how much I would enjoy Sadie when I first started reading it, I quickly became consumed, only to be left reeling at the end. I understand WHY the author chose the ending she did, and it’s honestly pretty in line with where a lot of True Crime podcasts end, but there’s just so many loose ends that I’d like to see wrapped up, especially for the emotional investment I ended up putting in, even in such a short amount of time (the book is a hair over 300 pages). I’m crossing my fingers that perhaps the podcast that’s being put out may extend past the events of the book, since Sadie seems to firmly be a standalone novel.
Overall: Sadie is unlike any other YA novel I’ve read, with the mixed media format, the grimy setting, and the unsettling narrative. However, I was so addicted to the format that I can only hope true crime podcast inspired stories become a new sub genre in YA!