Synopsis: 22 minutes separate Julia Venn’s before and after.
Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.
After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.
Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. And her fresh start has attracted one of the most popular guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely behind.
One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning…
To call this debut novel creepy and disturbing doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s insanely twisted and shoved me completely outside my comfort zone.
The story begins as Julia, now known as Lucy, is trying to fit in at a new school. She and her parents have moved to get away from the negative publicity and harassment following the conviction of her twin brother Ryan who committed a horrific act of school violence, leaving a teacher and several classmates, including her boyfriend and her best friend, dead. Lucy is the sole survivor but has large gaps in her memory regarding the events of that day. While what truly happened is foreshadowed, how the truth is eventually revealed is completely shocking.
Lucy/Julia isn’t a likeable character right from the start. She has no problem lying and manipulating people and events to suit her needs. The terrible crime of her brother follows Lucy no matter where she goes, but you don’t discover her exact role in it until the end of the book. Through her eyes you see the development of a sociopath, which is truly frightening. Because the narrative is mostly told from her perspective, it adds another layer of suspense since she’s not exactly trustworthy.
While Lucy is unforgettable, the secondary characters could have used some more development, particularly the parents. I found myself wanting to know so much more about them, but unfortunately they’re fairly two-dimensional and don’t really add anything to the story. This is a shame, because in a thriller such as this, I would have liked to have seen more of how their parenting effected the twins development.
The pacing never slows down, and while the ending wasn’t a complete surprise, there’s an incredible twist to it that left me shaken and disconcerted which doesn’t happen too often.
Damage Done is not a book I’d recommend to anyone under the age of fourteen due to the mature themes as well as some pretty graphic and disturbing scenes. In a world where school shootings have unfortunately become commonplace, Amanda Panitch tells a fascinating and thrilling tale of one of these senseless tragedies and the repercussions on the shooter’s family.