I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published November, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Provided by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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Stella Gordon's life is a lie.
She does not belong in Thunder Basin, Nebraska. As the key witness in a murder trial, Stella is under witness protection, living a life she doesn't want. No one can know who she really is. Not even Chet Falconer, her hot, enigmatic neighbour. But against her better judgement, Stella finds herself falling under Chet's spell ...
A storm is brewing. Is Stella really safe in Thunder Basin? And will Chet be her shelter, or her downfall ...?
Dangerous Lies was… actually alright. If I sound shocked, it’s because whenever it comes to something written by Becca Fitzpatrick, I’m always apprehensive. Her second mystery/thriller YA novel comes as a great surprise; total readability, excellent character growth and some solid relationships. I just wish the crime part of the story had been more ‘dangerous’ and the endings had been wrapped up a little tighter.
“I couldn’t shake the picture of Danny Balando’s dark eyes as I slipped into restless sleep.”
I’m always wary of Becca Fitzpatrick novels. Despite being pulled in by the gorgeous cover and premise of her debut Hush, Hush years ago, I’m just not a fan of her writing style or her characters. I read Hush, Hush and Crescendo and promptly gave up. I didn’t even try her non-supernatural debut, Black Ice. But when I heard about Dangerous Lies, I thought – why not? A lot of readers were praising Becca’s switch from supernatural/paranormal to mystery/thriller.
I have to say, I am so very glad she’s made the switch. I found that in Dangerous Lies, Becca Fitzpatrick had managed to hone and fine-tune her storytelling skills, making for a really READABLE read. Although I didn’t warm up to the characters quickly, I found that the pacing of the book was really fantastic and that I could have actually finished Dangerous Lies in one sitting if I didn’t have to be up that morning!
“What do you want from me? Do you want me to drink lemonade and rosewater and act like any of this is normal? I don’t want to be here. I didn’t ask for this. Everything I know is gone.”
Stella Gordon was quite an unlikeable character to begin with. I wasn’t surprised, as Nora in Hush, Hush is probably the worst YA heroine to date. However, there was some really solid character development this time around with Stella actually becoming quite likeable. Was she smart, funny? Not really. But she grew and matured and I really liked that about her. Stella also didn’t take any crap from anyone, which I admired.
Her relationship with the WITSEC guardian, ex-cop Carmina was also another fantastic point of the story. Although the two despised each other to begin with (Carmina has a very ‘tough love’ approach to teenagers) they soon became a really cute family unit, going to prove that family is not always blood. It was really sweet to see their relationship form, and one I hadn’t really seen play out as such in a YA novel.
“No more doctors, no more hospital. Just you and me, Stella-girl.”
The romance between Stella and bad-boy/cowboy Chet was also quite nice. It wasn’t my favourite part of the book, but it didn’t put me off either. I found it wasn’t ‘smothering’, allowing for the plot and other characters and relationships to develop alongside.
Dangerous Lies reads like a nifty little contemporary, with a dash of intrigue and suspense. It was ALMOST a four-star read (oh, so close) but there were a few things that hindered it from being really fantastic in my eyes.
First, with all the build-up for the side characters such as Inny and Dusty, there wasn’t much closure there. Inny and Stella had developed quite a nice friendship, yet once Stella leaves her behind at the party we don’t get to see her involvement in her life anymore. Important details that had been coloured throughout the novel (such as Inny being pregnant, etc) are simply MENTIONED. We don’t see Inny and Dusty with the baby – we just hear she had it, and cue the next scene. I felt a little cheated, as if Becca Fitzpatrick had simply given up on fleshing everything out so well.
“I rembered Reed. It had the right effect; It sobered me up and killed the mood.”
As for Reed, Stella’s boyfriend before WITSEC, what the hell happened to him? Such emphasis was placed on Stella’s determination to be with him again and keep in contact, etc. but he simply goes missing and she decides he wasn’t good to her anyway, so why bother worrying if he’s dead or alive? UM, HELLO? I want to know these things. I need to know these things if I’m going to judge in favour of a book or not. It was all glossed over way too easily.
There were a few other minor irks (Stella having gripes with her new WITSEC name being ‘Stella’ – uh, your real name is ESTELLA, so what’s the big deal?) that disappointed me throughout the read, but in all I found Dangerous Lies to be a pleasant surprise and definitely the best Becca Fitzpatrick book I’ve read to date.
“You have people who care about you here in Thunder Basin. Did I mention you have me? In case I failed to make it clear, you can count on me.”
The setting was absolutely gorgeous in the way it was painted. It was so real and honest and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Thunder Basin really existed.
As for the ‘plot twist’, I was a little ‘meh’. I was expecting the ‘lies’ to be more ‘dangerous’ to be honest. For all the WITSEC drama, there really wasn’t a lot of the threat from Danny Balando and his men. The crime itself didn’t seem that brutal to begin with and I found myself scratching my head as to why such effort had been put into placing Stella and Reed in witness protection. To put it simply, I wanted more danger. I think the story arc with Trigger was actually more threatening.
I would have liked to see the trial/crime stuff wrapped up a little more neatly rather than ‘oh all this will go away, it’s not important anymore’ but I guess what we got will do.
For now, I’m going to put aside Dangerous Lies with an impressed smile. Although not a favourite read, it has opened me up to Becca Fitzpatrick as an author again. I will be a little less apprehensive with her future releases.