When I got this book in the mail, I was so excited to read it. I have such a love for YA thrillers, so I’m constantly looking for more to add to my shelf. I had heard of author Stephanie Kuehn before, and I’ve even considered picking up Charm & Strange several times, but I never actually did. Now, after reading Complicit, I find myself wanting to read more by her.
Complicit is a psychological thrill ride through the life of Jamie Henry – told from his perspective in present day, it also features flashbacks containing snippets of his life with his sister, Cate – from the tragedy that struck them in childhood to right before Cate was sent away to a juvenile detention center for setting fire to a barn.
Cate never tried to impress anyone – she spent her teenage years under her adoptive parents’ roof drinking, using drugs, and partying on a regular basis. Jamie, on the other hand, tried to fit the mold of being the perfect son – getting good grades, spending time with the right people, and doing everything his parents asked of him. However, when Jamie learns that his sister is out of the juvenile detention center, and might be coming to see him, his condition (in which his hands go completely numb and he cannot use them), starts flaring up, and his anxiety goes through the roof. He doesn’t want to see Cate. He wants her to stay far away from him. Only he doesn’t get what he wants. Their adoptive parents aren’t thrilled with the idea of Cate coming back, either – after all, Jamie is the model child, and Cate is the one who they have lost hope in. She’s been the troublemaker all these years – so what could possibly change now?
When Cate comes back to see Jamie, she not only brings with her the baggage of setting the barn on fire, smoking, and drinking, but she also brings with her memories – things that Jamie doesn’t seem to remember. She knows things that Jamie doesn’t – and she thinks it’s time to set things right.
Complicit is the type of book that tends to unfold chapter by chapter, page by page, deepening the mystery as it goes. It definitely has a twist…which while it isn’t revealed until the very end of the book, it also is one of those that you can probably piece together yourself (I’ve read a lot of psychological thrillers, so I kind of saw it coming, but it didn’t make it any less delightful of a read). It’s definitely an engaging novel – one that I couldn’t put down until I had finished it, and since it is only about 250 pages, it doesn’t take too long to read through. Also, the chapters are incredibly short (some of them only at one or two pages), so there are plenty of places to stop if you have to take a break to do other things. For the most part, the chapters alternate between present day occurrences and memories that Jamie has of his life with Cate, so the story kind of comes together bit by bit.
While Jamie wasn’t a character I found myself easily connecting with, I did enjoy Cate’s character. While at first she seems sinister and just plain bad, the more you read, the more development you see in her that will lead you to rethink her character. By the end of this book, you will be astounded by the secrets that are revealed and the things that come to light…and when it ends, you’ll find yourself applauding Stephanie Kuehn for doing such a wonderful job wrapping up the story, and yet leaving it in such a way that makes you wonder.
If you enjoy thrillers, don’t let Complicit be one that you miss. It definitely lives up to its description!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.