Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, General, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Thrillers & Suspense, Young Adult
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.
As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
WITH MALICE unravels a mystery about what happened after two best friends take a school trip to Italy, with one returning with missing memories and one not returning at all. The entire novel is driven by the need to answer one question: what happened?
Told from Jill’s point of view, we find ourselves in the same position she is. Due to the fact that she is missing six weeks of her memory, including her entire time in Italy where everything went down, she knows just as much as the reader does about the incident. This makes for an interesting twist, because we can’t entirely trust the narrator but it’s really easy to want to.
Jill explaining what she does know makes her very easy to relate to, her background and experiences paint her as a somewhat naive, innocent, book-smart girl who loves her more outgoing friend to the moon and back. Of course, there is the possibility that maybe not everything is what it seems.
“I wanted to tell her everything was going to be okay,
but both of us knew that was a lie.
This was something that couldn’t be fixed.”
WITH MALICE manages to be a fast-paced story despite the fact that all the action has already happened. There is a strong need to know more-to find out exactly what happened-so the pages fly by. The novel keeps you guessing, revealing information bit by bit while still allowing you to create your own theories and attempt to connect the dots. In addition to Jill’s narrative, WITH MALICE also includes things like police interviews and notes, although it is up to you to decide how much truth is in them.
My only qualm with this book is that I expected the story to be told a little differently; I kind of wanted to go back and forth from the past and the present to slowly unveil the truth of what happened. Instead, we are given Jill, who has a limited perspective, and the police resources. I may be just a bit bitter though because I thought the novel would explore more of Italy (awesome setting, hello). I also wish some points would have been explored a bit more but I was satisfied overall.
WITH MALICE is a well-crafted story I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you are interested in any aspect of it. The story is a puzzle with the pieces scattered all around and you are given the information to find the pieces but not assemble them. Not to mention someone might have given you the wrong pieces in the first place. Who’s to say what the truth really is?