Tuesday, 5 July 2016

REVIEW - WITH MALICE BY EILEEN COOK

Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Hot Key Books
Genre: YA, Mystery,Thriller,Suspense, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: 7th June 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
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.


PURCHASE LINK

INITIAL THOUGHTS
Having read an excerpt/,taster of this book in the Book Buzz sampler, I wanted to read more.....so was over the moon to receive a review copy of this book!

THOUGHTS WHILST READING
42%  "What really happened in Italy? Will Jill ever remember? Can Jill trust her room-mate Anna not to cash in and sell a story about her?"

REVIEW
So I downloaded a free copy of this book from the publisher HMH/Hot Key Books via Netgalley in exchange for my review.
In my opinion the book cover looks like a postcard image, possibly of the picturesque area that the main character Jill is visiting with a historical/arts school programme. I think the cover will make the book look appealing to adult readers too, it doesn't particularly shout out Young Adult. So would the cover make me pick this one up from a bookstore shelf? So I'm being totally honest here, it probably wouldn't be the first book I would pick up, as I don't usually favour the contemporary genre. Having said that this book cover gave me the same sort of feeling and as The Island by Victoria Hislop so that would prompt me to check it out. 
The main character in this book is called Jill Charron, the initial impression you have about her is that she is entitled, used to getting her own way, has plenty of money and perhaps is a little spoilt too. As the book continues you realise Jill likes to please people and though outwardly has lots of bravado, inside she is really quite an insecure person.
The book begins with Jill being woken up by what at first she thinks is an alarm clock. As she wakes up more she realises she is not in her own bed! Jill initially worries wondering if she has telephoned her mum to explain she was staying out all night. Jill was worried about getting on the wrong side of her mum and causing another argument as they had been arguing even more than usual lately. Then Jill begins to really panic as she cannot remember where she is. The alarm clock noise is still irritating Jill so she turns, looking for its source, and discovers the beeping is from a machine that she is attached to. Jill's reaction to discovering she is in hospital is a mixture of shock and horror! Hospital = Bad! Jill knows whatever has caused he to be in hospital is something serious when her parents walk into the room. Jill's parents quite literally hate each other. Jill's father has moved on to another woman and created himself another family.
Finally Jill finds out what has happened . . . she's been in a car crash, she has been "out" for three days!and has retrograde amnesia, as well as aphasia and a fractured left femur. So Jill remembers nothing about the accident at all at this stage. Jill asks is she will still be able to go on the school trip to Italy and is upset to find out that is where the car crash happened and she cannot remember any of it. It's difficult to say much more as then I would have to include spoilers (which I hate doing). Jill is devastated to realise that someone died in the car crash and that the Police will be speaking to her about the incident. So was Jill resposible for the crash, Was the crash intentional on her part as some witnesses say it looked? 
Jill has many questions to ask herself and faces leaning some not so pleasant truths about herself as what actually happened is finally revealed. Jill may have to face the reality of some severe consequences for an accident that she cannot even remember!
Towards the end of the book, a version of what may or may not have happened is told. However there is a little space/room left for a sliver of a doubt to still exist about the accident.
The style of how the story is told in this book makes the book a fairly fast paced, and interesting way. It is told from varying social media sites. The book offers lots of differing opinions on Jill and her friends. There are also sections of the book where information is provided as being part of the Italian Police files, as well as Jill's email correspondence and the memorial website that is set up for the person who died in the crash. So the way the book uses different forms of information also makes the book interesting, it's kind of like the reader is investigating what happened in the car crash and why, not just merely reading about it.
The book follows Jill through her treatment, her psychologist appointments and her physical rehabilitation, as well as her discovering what happened in Italy and the events leading up to the car crash. Jill finds out what people really think of her and it certainly isn't all positive. Jill has some harsh facts and reality to learn to live with. The author really has the reader examine all aspects both good and bad of Jill's character.
It's rare that I don't like something in a book so much that I feel I just have to mention it but that happened in this book. There's a scene where a doctor called Dr Truckman tests the level of feeling in Jill's foot by "stabbing" a needle into it as he asks Jill if it hurts? Her thoughts/reaction are to compare Dr Truckman to Dr Mengele. Personally this flippant comparison irritated me and I felt that it wasn't needed. For those of you who may not have heard or know anything about Dr Mengele I'll explain. Dr Mengele was a German Doctor who cruelly experimented on Jewish people, children, and especially twins in concentration camps! Personally I think the use of Jill's comparison of her Doctor to Dr Mengele is a little in poor taste and kind of belittles those who suffered at the hands of the very real Dr Mengele. I suppose you could argue that this comparison is to show us an example of Jill's character, and her tendency to over exaggerate and to only think of herself rather than anyone else. Jill's character does come across as self centered, and at times arrogant and in my opinion with the use of the Dr Mengele comparison quite ignorant too. 
Did I enjoy the book? I did enjoy the book, in fact it made me view contemporary in a different light and encouraged me to read more of it! Would I recommend the book? Yes! not just for the YA Audience either, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really made me think about it. Even days after reading I was thinking about Jill and her situation. So I'd say it's a book that "stays with you". Would I want to read other titles by this author? Yes, definitely. I will be taking a closer look at other titles by Eileen Cook, and adding them to my Want To Read List on Goodreads very soon!

FINAL THOUGHTS
I honestly found this book thought provoking. It was interesting examining Jill's character from so many different points of view, wondering who was describing Jill the most accurately. You really see Jill's character develop, change, adapt and grow up to perhaps become a better person . . .It would be interesting to learn what other readers think actually happened in Italy and what their thoughts on Jill's character are.

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