In the right- or wrong- circumstances, Vee can learn all your deepest secrets. After touching an object with emotional resonance, she passes out and slides into the mind of that person, witnessing the world through his or her eyes. Usually it’s just embarrassing, but then she slides into a girl being murdered. Everyone else believes to was suicide by Vee knows better, so it’s up to her to find the killer before more girls end up dead.
My first couple years of college, my roommate and I used to read and watch mysteries together. About ten minutes before the end of the movie/show or two chapters from the end of the book, we’d pause and write down our guesses and stick them to the fridge with a magnet, and then we’d go back to the book or the television to see if we were right. It gave us a great deal of practice in dissecting clues and double meanings and false trails. I’d say probably 85-90% of the time, we were dead on.
So that being said, there was very little about the path of this book that surprised me. And that was okay because it’s the characters that get to astonish us.
It’s a fantastic concept, especially in that she can’t control the sliding. She can, at times and only ever erratically, exert some minimal influence. She can choose to pick up something with strong emotional resonance, or choose not to touch it, but she doesn’t get to have that power within the event itself. Sylvia is stuck as the ultimate unwilling voyeur. What makes it especially intriguing is that we get these glimpses with absolutely no context. She can try to pull clues from what she sees but she doesn’t get to read their thoughts, so she has to interpret actions and appearances that may be at odds with reality.
Vee is a great character, independent because she has to be, careful, protective, and resourceful. Both in being detective and being her sister’s mother figure, she’s stepped into roles too big for her. And there’s no one to help her. She sees these things but has no one she can confide in about them, because she doesn’t think anyone would believe her. The one time she tried to tell, she got sent to a shrink. That’s enough to make anyone try to hack it on their own. There’s a fine line between self-preservation (protecting her secret) and doing the right thing for others, and sometimes she’s not sure which side of that line she’s on. Her reactions are sincere and real, at times turbulent with the stress of all that’s going on, but always and essentially Vee.
I loved the relationship between Vee and her younger sister Mattie, most of all the transition that relationship undergoes through the book. Sisters, especially sisters close in age and in high school, will always have a unique tension between them. Especially when you compound the difference in age with the difference in maturity and interests. Mattie’s progression is heartbreaking but it gives so much hope for the type of person she could become. They have the moments that bring them so close together, almost clinging to each other for comfort. And they have the moments where they would gladly tear each other’s hair out or do anything to get the other one out of the room or the house.
I would have liked to have known more about Samantha. As Vee’s former best friend, as someone very close to Mattie and her friends, she’s a significant character in the influence she has over the sophomores. The strength of that influence is clear- the value of that influence is questionable. Still, she does extend an olive branch of sorts, and that makes her interesting, because it makes her complicated. I hope we get to see more of her in the next book.
I love Rollins and the friendship between him and Vee, but sometimes the tension there fell a little flat. Everyone has secrets and boundaries, and the communication will never be as open as we could hope for it to be, but their complete lack of communication felt unnatural. Still, there’s hope for Rollins, and he is definitely a character I want to know more.
There was one element that I found rather problematic, but it’s not something I can really talk about it. Spoilers. To dance around it as delicately as possible, there was some long-run timing that raised a few questions.
All in all, this is a beautifully paced mystery where every clue and hint and possibility and false lead is laid out in perfect timing, where we hurt and cheer for the characters in equal measure, and it leaves us wanting more. Check out Slide by Jill Hathaway, out in stores now.
Until next time~