Tuesday, 7 March 2017

#CBR9 Book 21: "Every Move" by Ellie Marney

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the third book in a trilogy, and as such, it will be impossible for me to write this review without at least minor spoilers for the earlier books in the series. Start at the beginning with book 1, Every Breath and come back here when you've caught up.

It's been a few months since Rachel Watts and James Mycroft came back from their trip to England, but Rachel is still having nightmares nearly every night because of her kidnapping and torture. Her mother doesn't even know the full details of what happened, but is barely speaking to Rachel after she impulsively went off to England after Mycroft with no warning. Rachel's not really spending a lot of time with Mycroft either, as he's hot on the trail of his own personal Moriarty, the enigmatic and sinister Mr. Wild. Rachel is deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing and while Mycroft wants to unmask Mr. Wild before he has a chance to hurt Rachel or Mycroft any further, his continued investigation is just making Rachel feel more unsafe and terrified.

Rachel and her brother Mike spend a little time back at their old, now abandoned farm and Mike's best friend Harris returns to Melbourne with them. He can't help but notice Rachel's PTSD and offers to help her with some self defence. Initially, Rachel gets a panic attack the minute he touches her, but the lessons gradually make her feel more confident and help get her anxiety and fear under control. While Mycroft is away with his aunt, investigating another lead into the identity of Mr. Wild, the body of a dead teenager bearing a striking resemblance to him shows up and both Rachel and the local police suspect someone is trying to send a very creepy message. When another dead teen, this time a girl looking uncannily like Rachel shows up, even Mycroft seems to realise just how much danger they are facing. Mr. Wild claims Mycroft has something he wants, and he's proven himself willing to stop at nothing to get it. Can Rachel and Mycroft unmask him and bring him to justice before it's too late?

In book 2, Every Word, Rachel and Mycroft grew closer and their relationship developed, both physically and emotionally. They faced down some very scary people together and Mycroft started opening up about his feelings about his parents' death and his grief. Yet at the beginning of this book, it's like they've taken a huge step back and are drifting apart, because Rachel is stubbornly trying to deal with her panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety without asking anyone for help and Mycroft has buried himself in the quest to find the man who killed his parents and who was also the employer of the men who kidnapped Rachel in Oxford and put both teens through a hell of an ordeal. Having discovered that his father was working for the secret service, most likely investigating a mole, Mycroft can't let the matter rest, no matter how much danger he may be putting himself, and Rachel in. The search for Mr. Wild is driving a wedge between the couple and it made for some miserable reading.

While Rachel is completely on the outs with her mother, unable to tell her everything about what happened on her England-trip, her brother Mike and her dad know the truth and try to help her as best they can. Rachel's friends are also doing their best to make her feel better, but it's Harris, Mike's best friend, who she hasn't seen in years who has the most success with reaching through to her. Pushing her past her initial fear of being touched and teaching her self defence, he finally provides the one thing that lets her sleep through the night again. Of course, while Rachel isn't really romantically interested in anyone but Mycroft, it's quite clear that Harris provides one third of a potential love triangle and this aspect of the book just annoyed me. Why couldn't he just have been a supportive guy friend, who saw that someone he'd known for a long time was struggling, and wanting to help her without any ulterior motive? It seems that opposite gender characters in YA must have a romantic interest in one another, whether that serves the plot or not.

I had a lot of guy friends growing up, and never fell in love with any of them. I'm pretty convinced that none of them ever harboured a crush on me either, unless they hid that infatuation REALLY well over the years. How is it that platonic friendships between opposite gender teens is such an impossibility? Why do they always end up together, or even worse, in some sort of contrived love triangle? I am a huge fan of romance, but don't think it needs to be an element in everything I read, especially YA books, where a lot of people are still maturing, physically and emotionally, and are unlikely to necessarily be looking for romantic entanglements at all.

While the first two books were quite fast-paced and entertaining, this book dragged in places. There's the first third, where Rachel is understandably traumatised after the events in the last book and trying to find back to herself. There's the new and unnecessary love triangle with Harris, her brother's best friend. There's the physical and emotional distance between Rachel and Mycroft. Then the build-up, where the teens come to terms with how they are going to confront Mr. Wild takes too long. While I was very emotionally connected to the characters (I love Rachel and Mycroft, separately and together), I was a bit impatient with the story and the bit with the murdered look-alike teens veered a bit close to moustache-twirling melodrama from the villain.

The final confrontation is still very tense and my heart was certainly racing, but the book took its sweet time getting there. I must admit, these teens get into some pretty serious scrapes and it's a wonder to me that they can walk at all with the amount of horrible injuries they sustain. Nearly mauled by lions, tortured and interrogated by ruthless kidnappers, chased by a sociopathic murderer through an abandoned quarry - there really is quite the variety of dangerous near-death experiences here.

All in all, I can absolutely recommend this trilogy of YA-mysteries, where Mycroft is clearly modelled rather closely on Bendedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Rachel is a very engaging and likable heroine, the couple work well as friends who turn into something more and the action in each of the books is certainly a lot more elaborate than I seem to remember from the Nancy Drew books I read growing up. The conclusion wraps up nicely, but is still the weakest of the three books structurally.

Judging a book by its cover: Another rather generic YA cover, with the cover models portraying Mycroft and Rachel looking attractive and loving. I very much doubt I'd pick up the third book if I saw this displayed in a bookstore. The publishers could have done something a bit more fun.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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