Title: Dead Time (The Murder Notebooks #1)
Author: Anne Cassidy
Category: Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Walker & Company
When Rose was twelve, her mother and stepfather went out for dinner and never came back. Now seventeen, she lives with her grandmother and goes to school in London. She’s always wondered about her stepbrother, Joshua, whom she only lived with briefly and who was also relocated after their parents’ disappearance. When Rose and Joshua meet again, they find they have much in common, including a desire to uncover the mystery surrounding their parents’ disappearance . . . and a mutual attraction to each other. But when Rose witnesses the murders of not one but two of her classmates, she must uncover who is behind these violent crimes. And when she and Joshua discover that a much larger conspiracy is underway, both of their lives will be in danger.
I have always been a big lover of mystery/suspense/thriller books. In fact, I devoured Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as a kid, and before I re-discovered a love for YA, I read nothing but adult mysteries. So, my bar was set decidedly high before going into Dead Time. Unfortunately, this book failed to meet my expectations, which is a pity, because I feel like there aren't enough good modern mysteries for the YA crowd.
Dead Time had a very drawn-out, circuitous plot. I thought for sure that as the story advanced, the intensity and anticipation would heighten, but it was all very one-plane. There were also many little sub-plots, which left me unsure of what the actual focus was. Some things were rather predictable, while other mysteries weren't even addressed, though incessantly hinted at. I understand that this is a series, and likely more will be revaled in the next book or two, but who is going to read them if the first book is such a bore?
I've come to realize that characters will make or break a book for me. The plot can be so-so, but if I care about the characters, I will keep reading. I wasn't even 80 pages in when I realized that Rose and Joshua (whose name I thought was Jake) were utterly umemorable, and even though they did go through a lot, with their respective parents having disappeared without a trace, I just didn't care. Not one bit! I didn't even care about the two people who were murdered. I felt very detached from the story, from its characters, and therefore from the "mystery" that was unfolding.
The dialogue and overall writing were uninspired, overly simple, and fragmented. I was actually a bit offended, as I felt as if everything were "dumbed down" for the book's intended audience. The setting was decent, though simple. Not really much to cover there, unfortunately.
Overall, I just wasn't impressed with any one thing within Dead Time. I contemplated giving up a few times, but the book was short enough that I trudged on through. I won't be reading any more of the series, but I do know that some of you may enjoy it. I recommend borrowing this book from the library, first, before commiting your money to it, and I hope you like it better than I did!
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.