ARC Review: HIDE AND SECRETS by Sophie McKenzie

I received an eARC of the book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in black on red
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for HIDE AND SECRETS: title in red and black on red and white with stick figures

Fourteen-year-old Cat is facing a lonely summer. Her father is missing – presumed dead – her mother has retreated into her own world and her little sister, Bess, refuses to speak.

But when a boy and his father come to stay nearby for the holidays, Cat finds herself opening up to the handsome Tyler. Discovering some long-buried information, Cat and Tyler begin to unravel the trail of lies around her father’s disappearance – a journey that will take them cross-country, uncover a dangerous gang, and a plot to steal a priceless jewel.

With secrets exposed, will Cat be able to begin to mend her family?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I read a lot of Sophie Mckenzie when I was in the first few years of secondary school. Dragged myself into town when one of the later entries in the Medusa Project series released despite a raging fever (really should NOT have done that as it turned out it was the flu that kept me in bed for a week!)

I have to say, I think I am too old for these books now. They definitely do feel on the lower end of YA, and thrillers down that end of the age range do feel a little less “timeless” and “for all ages” than, say, fantasy. I’m still recommending them to kids, just accepting that they’re maybe not for me anymore.

It’s not about the writing, but about the characters who just felt too young for me to really connect with them because they were in our world and dealing with school issues (etc) that I am long past – but because there’s been almost a decade since I was in that position, the “youth culture” has changed.

It’s very much a “me thing” – I’m just not the right age to connect – because the story itself was very good. The pacing is nice and rapid, allowing me to read it in an hour on the train because it’s quite compulsive – you need to know what happens next. The mystery itself (who is lying and what is really going on) and the relationship between Cat and Tyler was a little predictable, but the real star of the show/book is how it grapples with the emotional side of the issue.

If you’d lost your dad, mourned him for 18 months, then found out he might be alive, what would you do? It’s a massive question with so many implications, and many emotional processing stages to go through. There’s anger, hope, longing, confusion, and more. Plus the inevitable dismantling of the idol absence has let you build of this parent (particularly if grief and teenage years has strained the relationship with the remaining parent.) Everyone has coping mechanisms in the face of grief, and this book explores how they rub up against one another, and what happens when the loss might not be as permanent as originally thought.

The ending might not be to everyone’s taste, as it’s happy, per say – not the happy you might expect to get. But it is in keeping with the characters set up, and feels a lot more realistic than what could be called the “more traditional” ending.

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