I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: Physical ARC
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository
A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?
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 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but 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. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
With Malice was one of those books that catches your interest from the first page and takes you for a ride through a story about coming of age, self-identity and the tricky nature of memory. The narrative is written in the voice of Jill, a girl who cannot remember anything from the six weeks before her car accident that killed her best friend. We follow Jill as she remembers bits and pieces of that fateful summer abroad and follows a bread trail of legal evidence that paints Jill as her best friend’s killer. Did Jill kill Simone, or did her best friend try to kill Jill? Or was it just an accident?
On the one hand, the cover of With Malice is GORGEOUS. A tiny villa in Italy, with water colored words? I think this is easily one of my favourite covers thus far in 2016. The actual layout of the book is just as wonderful with narrative, witness interviews, e-mails and facebook posts interchanging one another. The interviews help break up the book and add a few extra plot revelations to the following chapter. The interspersed interviews also adds a little mystery to the story – is Jill capable of murder? Was their friendship really so rock solid? Was Simone really jealous of Jill? It was a masterfully written novel with some really genius methods to build paranoia and suspense in equal measures.
The biggest issue I had while reading With Malice was that the main character of Jill was relatively unlikable. I felt like Jill was selfish and spoiled. She was more interested in her own situation rather than mourning her best friend. We see from the start that she relies on others to take care of the situation for her with money and power. Jill’s reliance on her father’s money and her personality made me dislike Jill from the first few pages – and that dislike only intensified as I continued reading.
I have to applaud the author because the novel was beautiful and thought provoking without the need to like or relate to the main character. This is a skill so many modern authors possess.
I loved that With Malice was largely a plot and mystery novel with thought provoking questions about the correlation between memory and truth. We never remember situations exactly as they happened and as Jill’s doctor reminds her when her memories return – sometimes our memories are shaped by others. In the end, Jill an unreliable narrator who’s understanding of the events of that summer in Italy evolve over time as evidence is brought to life, old secrets are revealed and Jill’s memories become less and less reliable until we have no inkling of the truth.
The reason why I adored With Malice so much? I couldn’t stop reading to see what would happen next and what secret or evidence would be revealed. I loved that I was invested in the story (even if I hated the main character) and that after I’d finished With Malice I experienced a rare desire to think about the messages that were explored within the pages. The malleability of friendship, the unreliableness of memory, the darkness of power and wealth in the face of justice – these were all things I thought about after With Malice affected me deeply.
This novel with appeal to readers of young adult, mystery and suspense novels. I would recommend this book to people looking for a heavier read that explores deep issues while simultaneously telling a decent story. With Malice is written about issues rather than the experiences of the girl-who-may-have-killed – this is a novel about humanity, power, wealth, memory and friendship.