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BOOK REVIEW: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

| 12 November 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster

November 2015

Hardcover, $18.99 USD

Reviewed by Aly Locatelli



“We made it,” Price said, turning off the engine. He popped the trunk, where my suitcase waited.
I knew I had to get out of the car, but my legs wouldn’t move. I stared up at the house, unable to picture myself inside it. I thought of my real home.

Estella Goodwin, after witnessing a violent crime, is thrown into Witness Protection against her will. Until her eighteenth birthday, she has to live in the middle of nowhere (Thunder Basin, Nebraska) under the ever watchful eye of ex-cop Carmina and right next to hot cowboy mystery, Chet Falconer.

But even with a hot guy next door, Stella can’t help but feel bitter. She was supposed to go on a summer trip with her best friend and then start the last year of high school with her boyfriend before planning a future around college and freedom. Now, she finds herself starting a fresh, new life somewhere she doesn’t like with people she refuses to get along with.

I whirled on him. “What do you want from me? Do you want me to drink lemonade and act like any of this is normal? I don’t want to be here. I didn’t ask for this. Everything I know is gone. I’ll— I’ll never forgive her for this!”

Stella, though, isn’t telling the whole truth and as she starts feeling safer in Thunder Basin, her guard wavers… and the threat to her life increases.

Deputy Price had made it very clear that I should never, under any circumstances, attempt to contact anyone from my old life. Danny Balando and the dangerous men he employed would never give up looking for me. The only way they’d find me was if I broke the rules.

In spectacular Fitzpatrick fashion, Stella is the most unlikeable character I’ve ever encountered in YA. She is self-centred, rude, judgemental and incredibly annoying. For the first half of the book, being in her head was akin to watching non-stop reruns of 90210 — this reader’s teeth are practically non existent now. However, unlike Fitzpatrick’s other heroines, Stella was marginally better (although she still suffered with a good dose of Too Stupid To Live syndrome) and I warmed to her during the second half of the novel when she finally, finally puts aside her attitude and prejudicial comments to embrace Thunder Basin and the people within.

Even though sometimes, she came out with awful gems like the following:

I wondered if Inny ever wished it would die. No one wanted to give birth to a dead baby, but then again, no one wanted to be pregnant at sixteen, either.

Needless to say, Stella isn’t exactly what you’d call an “altruistic” or “thoughtful” character. There is no filter.

However, even though I enjoyed the second part of this novel more than the first, I still have a bucket full of issues with it. For one, the inconsistencies made the plot flimsy and easy to see through — for example, when Stella breaks the first WITSEC rule about not contacting anyone from her past life and sends her boyfriend an email. Although, later, we’re told it was only a draft, it was still a stupid thing to do considering dangerous mob men are after her.

Another point is the boyfriend theme itself. The novel begins with Stella and Reed hiding away in a motel room and savouring their last few seconds of peace before their new lives begin. For the first 30% of the story, Stella loves to remind the reader how much she loves her boyfriend and how she will do whatever it takes to find him after her eighteenth birthday. How he is the love of her life. How she can’t breathe or live without him.

All thoughts that are quickly forgotten once Chet Falconer (and his muscles and abs, because YA heroines apparently can’t function around them) enters the picture. After numerous ‘sizzling’ thoughts and intense eye-contact moments and even a quick dry hump in a public part, Stella is all, “Reed who?” Which, of course, leads to many angst-filled scenes (and by many, I mean two) when Reed goes missing from his WITSEC place and a very quick jump into a new, ‘exciting’ relationship with Chet.

It was hard to see Stella’s reasoning in this. Surely if the boyfriend you love so much goes missing — and thus could mean he’s probably in the hands of the bad men after you, or even possibly dead — he would be your first worry and you’d at least mourn him, if not remain faithful? Although it’s not that surprising, frankly, since she completely forgot she had a boyfriend once Chet became more than just a secondary character.

Also, Stella’s attitude and bad thoughts towards the WITSEC people and her guardian, Carmina, were completely out of place. Considering they are the people protecting her and putting their own lives at risk, I couldn’t get behind Stella’s bitterness or her outright nasty thoughts. For example:

On getting a job:

“Go ahead, boys. Laugh all you want. When this is over, you’ll still be wearing cheap suits and dealing with the scum of the earth. Meanwhile, the government will unfreeze my family’s accounts, I’ll have my money back, and this humiliating summer will be nothing more than a distant memory.”

On Carmina:

I couldn’t wait to meet her church friends. If I had anything to say about it, Carmina and her new foster daughter would be the gossip of Sunday dinner tables across town tonight. I fully intended to be the one who left her feeling humiliated. She was an ex-cop. People saw her as an authority figure. Their opinions might shift after today.
I was going to walk all over her.

It was really difficult to see why Stella hated everyone so much, and I couldn’t sympathise with her at all. Sure, she’d lost her friends and family and the life she knew and loved so much, but surely starting fresh and having the chance to actually live is a better prospect than being hunted down, tortured and killed by the mob?

Another point (and this will be my last) is the heavy, forced use of mystery used to describe Carmina’s and Chet’s history. It became too dramatic and too… fake, I suppose, for me to really buy into it. It got to the point where I did not care why they didn’t like each other, or why things were ‘tense’. I just wanted it to be over. And leading on from the dramatic is Stella’s immediate disgust and hate for the town’s golden boy, Trigger. He is, pretty much, Stella’s image (only male), and the feud that starts from the very first moment they meet is tiresome and not at all believable. I’d really hoped for something more exciting or realistic, but was given something straight out of a Hollywood drama.

Dangerous Lies features around exactly three characters: Stella, Carmina and Chet. They go to events and church parties and get-togethers; Stella and Chet go for rides and walks; Carmina and Stella have “heartfelt” moments and that’s about it. Although I really enjoyed the friendship-turned-relationship between Chet and Stella, I felt like the last 20% was too rushed, with far too many loose ends to give the book a satisfying, “closed” ending. The climax felt too much like the beginning of what was to come, and the fact that it just ended didn’t work in the book’s favour.

If you’re looking for a book with depth and fleshed out, 3D characters, and a racy, exciting plot, you’re not going to find it here. However, if you’re looking for a quick, easy read with some funny banter and a love/hate relationship, then this is the book for you!

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About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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