{Review/Giveaway} WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    I'm not a morning person. Understatement.
    My hand couldn't seem to muster the energy to turn off the alarm. It picked at the covers. The blanket felt wrong. Scratchy. Thin.
    This isn't my bed.
    The realization made me uneasy.I mush have crashed somewhere. I hoped I'd remembered to call my mom. I felt a ripple of worry. If not, I was going to be in deep shit for not coming home. She was already mad about...
    My brain was blank. I couldn't remember why she was ticked at me. I remembered fighting about it. I'd slammed my door, and Mom threatened if I did that again, she'd take it off the hinges, but the reason why we'd argued was gone.
    It felt like the reason was right on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn't pin it down. Every time I tried to concentrate, it slipped away.

(Pages 1-2, US ARC edition)

“It doesn’t matter what’s true — what matters is what people believe.” 


There aren't a lot of great mystery novels for teens these days, unless you go back to the 90s. But teens also want something new, something current. They especially want psychological thrillers after the boom in adult publishing with book-to-movie success stories of the New York Times Best Sellers GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins. When WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook came out earlier this year, it was touted as the book to break out in this genre for teens.

The novel centers around Jill Charron, a girl with amnesia who may have murdered her best friend while on vacation in Italy. Jill swears she could never do such a thing. Simone had been her best friend since fourth grade. They'd never have a falling out, least of all over a guy. Jill can't even remember being in Italy, let alone letting a guy come between them. As she goes through rehab and begins to heal, pieces of her trip start slowly coming back to her, but she can't trust her own memories due to the extent of her injuries. What really happened in Italy? Will she ever know--and can she find out before a trial that could land her in jail for a crime she may not have committed?

Jill is an unreliable narrator due to the nature of her injuries...but that's the best kind in a thriller, right? Who can you trust? Her story is broken up with news articles, police investigation reports, Facebook comments, and other types of social media swirling around the story. Each piece offers an alternative perspective and showcases the way that there's always more than one side to any story. The true story has to be dug up, and maybe the world will never know the truth, just like so many other crimes committed every day. I like the way the reader is thrown up into the mystery and has to figure out what to believe. Jill's injuries from the accident make it so that she's never sure if she is having a true memory or if her brain is filling in the missing gaps based on what people are telling her and inventing its own memories. It's a really interesting way to bring this to life!

A lot of the story happens off the page. Jill wakes up in a hospital. The trip to Italy has already happened. The media frenzy is ongoing. This book is more about uncovering the truth than it is on developing characters and their interactions, but it works for this style of story. While WITH MALICE didn't make me feel as many emotions as other books in its genre, it did compel me to figure out what the heck happened and continue the journey to discover the truth.

If you want a page-turner filled with media sensation, WITH MALICE is a solid entry that will appeal to teens craving suspense novels in YA!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( Nothing happens on the page, but it is alluded to that Jill may have had sex in Italy )
Language: PG 13 ( General words such as "shit" as well as some f-bombs and a bit of slut shaming )
Violence:  PG Nothing graphic, but it is implied that there was a tragic accident and that a girl may have been murdered )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love the coloring! That sickly green in the sky and the water that's mirrored in the title font treatment just screams, "Something is not right here."

I also like seeing the Italian homes in the background. Italy's houses are so unique and vivid, and seeing them on a book cover will make readers who enjoy books rotating around foreign countries pick this one up to see what it's about! 
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Eileen Cook
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Received: For Review

It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t. 

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. 

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.


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