Aug 6, 2012
Title: All Unquiet Things
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.
Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.
Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.
As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.
Neily and Audrey reluctantly team up to solve the mystery surrounding Carly’s death, neither convinced the convicted murderer really did it. Carly dumped Neily for bad-boy Adam, a part of Audrey’s dangerous crowd of friends. Now Neily and Audrey must dig in to Carly’s past and figure out who really killed her, and what secrets her killer tried to protect.
It’s not often that a book can be so beautifully written that it gives me chills on the first page, but by the end of the first paragraph even, I knew this book was going to be something special. It’s the perfect blend between a heartbreaking contemporary and a nail-biting mystery.
This is one of those books that has those kind of unlikeable characters, who make mistake after mistake and are a little bit mean. Which, as it happens, tends to be my favourite type of characters. Likability is overrated. I want compelling characters. And the narrators, Neily and Audrey, are compelling.
This book has two narrators, Neily–Carly’s ex-boyfriend who found her murdered body, and Audrey–Carly’s cousin and best friend. And, thank goodness, both first-person narrators and well-developed and, best of all, unique! As in, both narrators sounded different from each other (a feat that seems strangely hard for a lot of authors). Not only that, but all the secondary characters, from Neily’s friend Harvey to Carly’s bad-boy boyfriend Adam to Audrey’s ex-boyfriend Cass, were all well-developed too.
And there’s a real depth to the story that comes from those layers of the characters. This isn’t just a mystery. This is about dealing with grief and guilt and things left unsaid that comes from the death of a loved on.
On the mystery side, I think the depth to the characters and the story the author was able to create really helped create suspense. I mean, I read a lot of mystery books. The end of ALL UNQUIET THINGS didn’t really shock me or anything, but then again, I don’t think the shock of figuring out the mystery is the point of a lot of really great books. I think the real point is the suspense, the build up to the discovery and the final confrontation. And that’s really well done here.
(This book took me over a week to finish just because of my anxiety and the suspense. It’s like torture watching Neily and Audrey dig deeper and deeper into the mystery, discovering just how in-over-their-heads they are and still watching them risk their lives to find out what happened to Carly).
The only thing holding me back from giving this book a five star rating is Carly. Which, seeing as the whole book revolves around her death and is narrated by the guy who’s still in love with her and her best friend, kind of ends up being an issue. I mean, Carly was developed well enough–we see a lot of her in flashbacks and Neily and Audrey talk about her enough to get a full picture of her. I understood her motives, I guess. But I still found her so irritating and, frankly, kind of stupid. She’s a broken character going through a hard time, yes, but she seems to understand what she’s doing and how stupid it is, and yet she keeps doing stupid things. But I guess it speaks to the author’s brilliance that I still was fully invested in the mystery surrounding Carly’s murder (although that may have been more because I really liked both narrators, Neily and Audrey).
In the end, a great book, and I can’t wait for Jarzab’s next book. I would recommend to any contemporary or mystery YA lover.