Bullying, Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, YA Fiction
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Children for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Synopsis: It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories. A secret society–for the four of us. The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other. We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.
Nothing could break us apart–I thought. But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.
We wanted revenge.
We broke the rules. We lived. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to. Our invention ratcheted out of control.
What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.
Despite a promising beginning, First We Were IV wound up being a frustrating read for several reasons.
First, it felt as though I was reading two separate books simultaneously. One was a creepy and compelling tale about four teens trying to solve a girl’s murder that occurred when they were children. This was what I liked the most. But then there was another side which was your stereotypical YA story where a group of teens feel like the entire world is against them and decide that they’re much better than anyone else around them. To prove their superiority, they they form a secret society to strike out against the town and their classmates. Oh! And while they’re performing random acts of vandalism and violence, they’re also falling in and out of love with each other at a rate that made my head spin.
The other issue I had was with the characters themselves. There was only one of the foursome that I actually liked, Harry, who is the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Izzy, who primarily tells the story. The others, including Izzy, are immature, bland and uninteresting at best, self-centered and arrogant at worst. Izzy, Harry, Viv, and Graham, have all been subjected to bullying which should have had me emphasizing with them, but because of their attitudes and actions, completely turned me off instead. And as for the adults, well, they all pretty much fit into the stereotypical roles that unfortunately you find in a lot of YA fiction. There’s the lazy and ineffectual police; the clueless parents and school officials; the elderly, nosy neighbor; the abusive father, etc. The way adults are often portrayed in YA literature is a particular pet peeve of mine, so I was extremely aggravated. After over 400 extremely long pages, the ending finally came, only to leave me feeling even more frustrated and unsatisfied.
In my humble opinion, if the author had focused more on the murder mystery and Izzy and her friends trying to get justice for this girl that the rest of their town had purposely forgotten, this would have been a great book. But instead, it spins off into too many different directions including much too much high school drama. Simply cutting some of this soap opera would have made this a tighter and more controlled story.
I have to be honest and say that there are far more positive than negative reviews for this, so please go check them out before making up your mind as to whether you’re going to read this or not. As for me, this is the third book I’ve read by Alexandra Sirowy, and I had many of the same issues with all of them. It might just be that her writing style isn’t for me.
*Krysti, over at http://yaandwine.com absolutely loved this if you’d like to check out another opinion. And she’s having a giveaway!*
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