I think what originally drew me to Unnatural Deeds was that somewhat creepy cover that just screamed “thriller alert!” when I looked at it. The rusty scissors, the creepy black and green background and writing for the title, and of course, that lone, clearly snipped flower that just hints at an amazing psychological thriller. See, I really do have a thing for pretty book covers, and this one is probably in line with my favorite covers ever. It’s simplistic, yet perfectly states what it is going for.
The story for Unnatural Deeds definitely is thrilling, and I did find myself really enjoying the book. It was set up in an unusual way – it was more like a haunting confessional instead of a regular book – that is, our main character is telling another character in the book what happened and why. She is telling him a story, instead of it being narrated in the traditional way. It was interesting, as I haven’t really read a lot of books like this. In fact, the last book that I read that had the whole confessional thing going on was probably Leftovers by Laura Weiss.
Unnatural Deeds starts us off with our main character, Victoria Zell, starting up a confessional to her boyfriend Andrew on her cell phone. See, Victoria is in a very compromising position, and we, as the readers, don’t exactly know how she has gotten here…but she’s about to tell Andrew what led her here, and as readers, we have to listen to her story.
“I want him out of my head. I wish I could scrape him out of my memory. I don’t want to live with him etched in the deepest part of me. I don’t want to die thinking of him.
But I know I will.”
Victoria begins her confession to Andrew by telling him about a new boy in school. His name is Z, and he instantly takes a liking to her, inviting her to skip class (something she has never done before but gets such a thrill out of doing with Z), hang out, and be friends with him. Z, on the other hand, has the entire class at their school (which is only about 30 kids, since it’s a private school) in the palm of his hand – everyone seems to want to be around him, and he uses that to his advantage. However, Vic doesn’t really have any friends – she doesn’t interact with anyone except Andrew, who is home schooled and doesn’t leave the house very often because of his severe agoraphobia. So Vic takes up with Z, and doesn’t realize that he is using her for her lab reports (which he takes out of her locker and leaves her little gifts) and for her to do all the work in the classes they have together so he can copy her.
Then Vic starts to fall for Z. Really fall for him. To the point where she’d probably do just about anything to make him happy. But there are some weird rumors going on about Z, and he’s acting kind of weird…so Vic decides that she should definitely get to the bottom of what’s going on.
The whole time, she’s been ignoring Andrew – not spending time with him, keeping plans that they made for his birthday – and he’s starting to notice. While Vic was honest with him about their friendship, she wasn’t honest about the fact that she has slowly been falling for Z, daydreaming about him, and even kissing him.
Eventually, the book leads up to an incredibly shocking twist (and I’ll admit that I didn’t see this coming!) that really changes the way you look at the entire story. I’m still not sure if I’m happy with the way that this book ended, but I’m not even going to say anything about the twist or the ending because I don’t want to ruin the story. The author clearly spent the entire novel working her way up to the explosive twist at the end, and yes, it’s quite the twist, so trust me on that.
I really wasn’t able to connect with Vic’s character, and that did kind of make the book a little less enjoyable for me, but I still liked the book overall. Vic’s character just seemed a bit like a pushover – she seemed content to let Z get away with doing or saying just about anything to her, and she let him walk all over her and was quick to forgive him and continue her feelings for him like he hadn’t even hurt her. She was happy to accept the gifts her left for her in her locker, and let him copy her work, and when she confronted him, she just let him talk her into believing that it was okay. After reading the book to the end, I can see why she acted this way (kind of), but it still made me kind of angry that she thought this behavior was okay.
Unnatural Deeds satisfied my need for a psychological thriller, that’s for sure. The writing kept me glued to the pages – I haven’t read any other books by Cyn Balog before, but this book made me want to check into some of her other novels (I get all excited when I discover an author that I haven’t read a book by before!).