Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

WARNING: The following review is full of spoilers! Read at your own risk.

I went into The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die expecting a heart pounding thriller. I mean, that’s what you expect when the blurb on the inside cover reads  “She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that two men are arguing over whether or not to kill her. And that she must run.”

And yes, the first few chapters of the 213 page book are pretty fast paced and interesting as the main character wakes up, overhears the threats against her life and reacts defensively without understanding how she knows how to do the stuff she’s doing. Then she finally leaves the cabin where she’d been held captive and it starts to go downhill with a series of very contrived and horribly unrealistic plot points.

She steals a car, talks to a security guard and tells him about her torture at the hands of the two men from the beginning and then he gets a mysterious phone call telling him the girl is an escaped mental patient. I’d think you’d at least be a little suspicious about that and wonder which story is true, right? But nope, he chooses to wait with her and have the “doctors” come get her instead of calling around to see whose story is true. Sigh. But at least she learns her name is Katie.

Then, once she gets herself out of that situation, she ends up falling asleep at a McDonald’s and is helped by the compassionate night-shift worker named Ty who just so happens to be cool enough to help her even when the men come after her, spreading more lies about her mental issues. So basically the next few people she meet are all so interested in helping her even though the only things they know is that Katie: has a gun, might be crazy, and is being hunted by creepy dudes. Oh and there’s also a story out that she shot the security guard from earlier on. Yep, two boys that have struggled most of their lives are totally into helping possibly crazy murderers. But help her they do.

The next big plot point is that Ty and Katie (who we have discovered is actually Cady) have stolen a car and are going back to her house when they just so happen to hear a news broadcast from Cady’s aunt. So of course they decide to go visit her in the fancy hotel she’s staying at because if someone is being hunted there’d be no way your pursuers would think to look for you there. And it’s very obvious from the get go that the aunt is suspicious as all heck. Low and behold, we find out a few hours later that the aunt is no aunt at all but is actually working one of the bad guys! (Doesn’t Cady have friends that would know the lady wasn’t her aunt? How did the lady know Cady’s memory was so far gone that she could pretend to be an aunt? Those questions are never answered. How convenient!)

Now this is when we finally reach the point where Cady’s memories return and we find out why she’s being hunted. It’s all about viruses and vaccines! There was absolutely no indication before page 137 out of 213 that the story was going to have anything to do with viruses, etc. I mean, couldn’t you have at least had a prologue where someone dies in the way the virus kills? Or have Cady wake up at the beginning and notice sciencey equipment in the cabin? No? Oh okay.

Then the rest of the ending is so fast paced it’s ridiculous. In 30-40 pages the reader learns the sciencey virus stuff, and that the company Cady’s parents are working for keep killing off people they don’t like, and that Cady’s parents ran away and took her little brother and now he has the virus! So who has to go get the vaccine from the scary company who is responsible for the deaths of at least five people so far? Cady and Ty of course! And it’s oh so easy. They literally get into the building, past security, and to the room with the vaccine in about thirty minutes. There is a stand off with the bad guy but that only lasts for about two minutes and Cady ends up past out again. Guess what happens when she wakes up? Everything is perfectly okay and all the good guys are alive and the bad guys are in jail!

Then to add to that unbelievably there’s an addition of a little epilogue three months later where Cady and Ty are skiing where Cady’s parents plan to rebuild the cabin from the beginning of the story. Though there are bad memories there of being tortured and almost murdered Cady is okay with it because it’s only 45 minutes away from where Ty lives. Because Ty, even though he goes to high school, works part-time at McDonald’s, and has rent and a car to pay for he can totally afford to text Cady all the time and go on weekend vacations to go skiing with her. Right.

What gets me is that there was so much potential for a good story here. With a few extra plot points, about a hundred more pages, and some better dialogue and characterization this could have been awesome. But sadly it was not.

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