Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Gregg Olsen

Day 51: Betrayal by Gregg Olsen

Day 51

Summary From Goodreads

In this action-packed thriller sequel to Envy, foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death after a party–and the prime suspect is her best friend. As twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan get pulled into the aftermath of this Amanda Knox-like crime, they realize nothing is what it seems. Could it be betrayal of the ultimate kind?
Betrayal features real-life crime-solving techniques, heart-stopping suspense, plenty of red herrings, hard-hitting ethical questions, and information about the Amanda Knox case that inspired the novel. As the crime unravels, so does the twins’ past…and they must face off against a family member who may unexpectedly have carried out the worst betrayal of all.

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Favorite quote: “Besides, when she made it big, she’d be able to look Anderson Cooper in the face and tell him the backstory that made Hollywood’s misadventures seem like the boring middle part of a YA novel”

When I wrote my review of Envy I said at the end that if the positive elements were carried through and some adjustments were made that Betrayal could be stellar. I’m thrilled to say that I was exactly right. Betrayal was everything I had hoped for after reading Envy. I knew that the characters were already compelling, the storytelling talents of Olsen were excellent and so this was Envy minus the few flaws of the first book.

The story of Betrayal is wonderful in its execution. The intertwining arcs between the murder of Olivia Grant and that of the twins works beautifully, and with the foundation having already been set there didn’t have to be such a major focus on the powers that the twins have. I can’t overstate enough how much of a difference that made. Gone is the cheesy factor, the repetition and the sillyness. In its place is a thrilling murder mystery that seems to be linked to just about everyone in Port Gamble in some way. The different points of view that were used in Envy no longer drove me crazy, but were executed so well and so seamlessly that the flow of the story was never interrupted and the story just received the enriching side affect of having more details to go on. We knew more about what the supporting characters were thinking, and it was fantastic.

Speaking of the characters, talk about refined! I said in Envy that because of the massive amount of character points of view there were a lot of info dumps to compensate. In Betrayal we know about the vast majority of the characters that are used and are given just slight reminders as to what role they play. Again this helps the flow of the story while keeping the characters both interesting and fresh. The twins don’t seem as cartoonish in quality, Beth actually (in a stunning turn of events) becomes human, or at least close, and a plethora of other characters are defined further in a more natural way. Even with characters that were unpleasant (Brianna anyone?) I found that I enjoyed reading about them, something that isn’t often the case.

The murder mystery in Betrayal will leave you breathless until the end. The book as a whole left me pining for a third book and while I don’t know for certain if there is one I have heard about a possible title Guilty. I can’t wait to read it if and when it comes out. I definitely enjoyed Betrayal and I think any reader, especially YA fans would too. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 52!

Mount TBR Challenge #39/150; 2013 TBR Pile #39/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #51/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #18/44

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Day 35: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Day 35

Summary From Goodreads:  

Crime lives–and dies–in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen–and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town’s victims and culprits.

Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins’ old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out–and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.

Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge–and push you right over.

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Envy is a mixed bag. On one hand I enjoyed the story and was unable to put the book down until I had finished it. On the other, some of the writing drove me a bit crazy, as well as the point of views.

Envy uses multiple (and by that I mean somewhere around 10) points of view in order to share information with the reader. It is effective but it just feels a bit busy, too many thoughts from too many different people. Also, because we see the point of view of so many different characters the amount of info dumps to flesh them out is somewhat ridiculous. That type of information sharing goes on throughout the entire book, not just in the beginning like with most books that focus on one, or maybe two/three, point(s) of view.

As for the writing, it was little things, and more so in the beginning. For the first few chapters there was some variation of “something big is about to happen/everything is going to change” stated over and over again. I don’t really understand why, the reader can pretty much infer that important things are going to occur, it is the beginning of the book we are talking about. There were creepy lines that didn’t fit such as on page 39 “However, the girls felt no mercy for those who perpetrated evil intentionally. Their souls were dark and always would be.” Pretty serious stuff for teenagers and a bit over the top. Also, there were random words used that don’t make sense given that the audience is YA, such as with “scintilla” which essentially means a very small amount.

The “twin-sense”, especially the way it was written, kept making me think “wonder twin powers activate!” which I can’t imagine is a good thing when reading a book about figuring out why someone died. 

However, like I said in the beginning part of the review, I did enjoy the story. There were clues for the reader to find along the way just as the sisters were and seeing if you can figure out “who done it” before the characters do is always fun. The plot twists were convincing and didn’t feel contrived. As for the main characters, though they did suffer from being very similar by default since they are twins, I enjoyed reading about them. They felt realistic (sans superpowers/twin telepathy) and were likable enough. Beth, the best friend of the twins, was done very well. She was a character that the reader was supposed to detest and by page 59 I officially wanted to dropkick her so mission accomplished!

Overall I thought Envy was a solid book. The story was there to work with and though the execution at times felt a bit off to me the experience was a good one. I already have Betrayal so I look forward to reading that sometime soon-ish and seeing how the story continues. If the positive elements of Envy are carried through and developed I think that book could be stellar. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 36!

Mount TBR Challenge #29/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #29/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #35/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #15/44

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