Tuesday, June 16, 2015

*Book Review* Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn (YA Psychological Thriller)

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Source: Publisher 
Genre: YA, Psychological Thriller

From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

Delicate Monsters was a surprising addition to my reading list thanks to the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin, sending me a copy. Not unlike Complicit, Kuehn loves dark, emotionally disturbed characters. Her stories are full of twists and shocking surprises. Delicate Monsters doesn't wander all that far from that formula. Kuehn touches on subjects that aren't all that happy. They make the reader think, and perhaps, take action in their own lives. 

Kuehn tells her story via 17-year old Sadie Su, 18-year old Emerson Tate, and 15-year old Miles Tate. The more you learn about Sadie, Emerson, and Miles, the more real the story gets. The more real the story gets, the more you realize that something isn't exactly what it seems. You start to realize that these characters are tied up by a mutual history, one that isn't exactly pretty. These three characters are disturbed and would normally find themselves locked up had this been reality.

Sadie is a girl who has been tossed out of several boarding schools. She nearly killed a fellow student in her last school which forced her back to California. Sadie is more than happy with her discontent. The more disconnected she is from reality, the more happiness she finds. In fact, it's what keeps her breathing and getting out of bed every day. She knows Emerson's deepest, darkest secrets from when they were kids. It's whether or not she actually uses this information, that keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

If you believe that Sadie has issues, meet Miles. Miles claims he knows when bad things are going to happen. He suffers at the hands of bullies, his older brothers non caring attitude, and the fact that he may or may not hear inner voices telling him to do harmful things. I would not hesitate to compare Miles to the Columbine shooters, and no I will not go any further than that since it might spoil certain aspects of the story. Miles is a traumatized young boy who broke my heart. 

Then there is Emerson. Emerson plays basketball, has various friends who he parties with, drives his father's old Mustang around, really likes a pretty girl named May who just happens to be black, and claims that he doesn't really remember what happened to his father 8 years ago. He isn't at ALL happy that Sadie returns after being away for so long. Sadie knows Emerson. She knows of his darkest secrets, and can expose them at any time. Emerson is the character that made my skin crawl with his actions. He has a dark side that he can't really control, and has done some surprisingly shocking things. Truth be told, I could actually understand Sadie and Miles more than I could Emerson. 

Readers shouldn't be surprised that Kuehn doesn't necessarily believe in Happy endings. She allows readers to take in what she's written, and come up with their own conclusions as to what happens next. There are some shocking scenes in this book. Perhaps that's perfectly fine. Sometimes shocking scenes are what is needed to bring the true realities of life to the forefront.  Sometimes the villain becomes the good guy, and sometimes a very broken character comes to surprise you by being something completely unexpected.

Conclusion: Definitely recommended for those who have read Charm and Strange and Complicit. Although I had minor issues with the way the book ended, I'm pretty sure that I won't hesitate to read the next book Kuehn releases.

**I received this book for free from (St. Martin's Griffin) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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