Book Review: Are You Still There? (Sarah Lynn Scheerger)
*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.
Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?
This book started off really strong. I was sucked in instantly and almost found myself holding my breath at some points: I hadn’t read the synopsis and didn’t know how the situation was going to turn out.
For me, the beginning and end of the book were really solid, but the middle wobbled a bit. I liked the idea of the help line, and the friendships that developed there were really strong and sweet. There were some moments that were very creepy and others that were quite touching.
However, there were two things that I really didn’t like. One was the relationship between Gabi and Miguel. While it started off okay, it often felt like the focus of the book, and it really didn’t interest me. I wanted more of the bomber mystery and less high school romance. And it did feel very high school-esque: it all got very serious very quick and I just couldn’t believe in it. It might be the old, cynical part of me talking but when they’re saying how they love each other after a long few weeks of dating I can’t help but roll my eyes.
The second thing I didn’t like was the identity of the bomber. I honestly guessed it as soon as that person was in a scene. There were plenty of misleads and red herrings, which I appreciated, but I knew they were fake and who it would turn out to be in the end. The ‘Stranger’s Manifesto’ also read a bit cliche at times.
The end of the book was really emotional and I did love seeing the development of Gabi and her sister’s relationship. While this book wasn’t really for me, there are some great elements and I can see other people really enjoying it.