Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them here but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.
The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.
But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?
I’ve been a fan of Kelley Armstrong since she came out with Bitten, the first book in her Women Of the Underworld series, so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was going to request this when it appeared on NetGalley. While I don’t think Missing is one of her best books, it was still, for the most part, enjoyable. One of the things I like about this author is the way her writing seamlessly flows. It makes it practically effortless to breeze through her books, and even though I found the plot in this to be a little slower moving than some of her others, I still finished this in two sittings. One strength here is Armstrong’s critical look at social class norms through her characters. Winter lives in a trailer park with her drunkenly abusive father, and often goes hungry. Lennon and his brother Jude (gotta love the Beatles reference), have grown up in luxury with their adoptive wealthy parents. The issues of class, privilege and Southern “chivalry” are all explored within the context of the story and its characters. The isolated and small town setting of Reeve’s End in Kentucky is very atmospheric and helps create a menacing air. Residents here not only distrust outsiders, they’re continually keeping an eye on each other. As a result, it’s not difficult to wonder if the kids who left Reeve’s End did so willingly, or are missing due to a far more sinister reason. The best part of the book is Winter. Having lost her mother and stuck in this going nowhere town, she is nevertheless a girl with a plan. She avoids her father as much as possible, and is ready to leave like her older sister. But her plans are upended when after spending a night in the woods, she stumbles across Lennon, which in turn leads her down a dangerous path. Winter is an easy character to become emotionally invested in. She’s courageous, stubborn, and not afraid to speak her mind. She’s also determined to find out who or what is behind these disappearances especially when she discovers that her assumptions regarding her sister may be wrong. The secondary characters aren’t as well drawn, particularly in regards to the adults who either come across as one dimensional or are stereotyped as in the case of the police. Is it me, or is the way authority figures are portrayed in YA fiction seem more often than not, to fit these characteristics? Anyway, there are many creepy twists and turns and more than a few red herrings tossed in the reader’s path, which will keep you guessing almost right up until the somewhat rushed ending. Which brings me to my last issue. The big reveal comes pretty much out of left field. The villain did not make their appearance until right before then, and this basically left me scratching my head. I personally don’t like it when an author throws in a previously unknown character at the conclusion, but other readers might not mind it. Overall, though, I found Missing to be a quick read that’s light on romance but heavy on suspense. It also brings up the very real issue of how easy it is under the right circumstances, for someone to go missing, and not have enough questions raised. Teens who like mystery and suspense and a strong main character should definitely enjoy this.