Saturday, 22 September 2012

Envy by Gregg Olsen

Series: Empty Coffin, Book One
Publisher: Splinter
Format: Hardback
Published: 7th September 2011
Number of Pages: 352
Book: For Review*
Genre: Murder Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Action-Adventure, Supernatural, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Smoking, Swearing, Alcohol References
No Drug References
Author's Blog: Gregg Olsen

“A blast of icy air blew in from her open bedroom window.  The silver razor blade glinted, beckoning her.  Katelyn fantasized about taking control of her pitiful excuse for a life the only way she could.
“The bathtub was nearly full.  Steaming.  Just waiting. 
“Katelyn had no idea that, not far away, someone else was doing the exact same thing.  Just waiting for the right time to make a move.

The night Katelyn died was the beginning of something that would change everything.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  THING,
Evil comes in all sorts of flavours.  Some bitter.  Some deceptively sweet.  That’s what Katelyn discovers on the day she dies.  One minute she’s a depressed teen with a loser life.  The next, she’s lying on a stainless steel slab, eyes glassy, skin frosted over, and very, very dead.  Was it:
Twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan stumble upon the truth, which is far more disturbing than they could have ever imagined… and which sheds light on another secret, a hidden past they didn’t know about.
Inspired by a ripped-from-the-head-lines true crime about cyberbullying, Envy is the gritty first volume in a new bone-chilling series that takes you to the edge – and pushes you right over.

It’s taken me forever to write this review.  Not because I didn’t like Envy – I absolutely loved it.  No, it was because I wasn’t sure what to say without giving away the whole plot.  I hope I did the book justice!
One evening, Sandra Berkley finds her daughter Katelyn in the bathtub.  Dead.  Also inside is an espresso machine, still plugged into the wall.  Her death is heard all over town.  No one knows how Katelyn died.  Suicide?  Murder?  Accident?  No one knows.
Twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan need to know the truth.  With their unique powers, they are determined to find out how Katelyn died.  What they don't know is that in the process, they will shed light on a hidden secret from their past...
Me, I’m a mildly twisted person who dotes of TV shows like Criminal Minds and CSI.  However, whenever I try to read a crime novel, it’s either Sherlock Holmes or waay too graphic!  But Envy was perfect and new and amazing!  Two twin sisters with paranormal abilities, solving the death of an old friend, while struggling to keep their abilities hidden?  Safe to say, I loved this book!  I was constantly on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out who the killer was.  Envy has gotta be one of my favourite crime novels ever and I really think everyone should read it!  It is an exciting and entertaining read, but it has a hidden message too: bullying hurts and even the silliest thing can make someone feel horrible about themselves.  It was strong, powerful, amazing and perfect for CSI-loving teens!
Hay-Tay, the twins were just amazing: I loved them both.  Hayley, the more practical and level headed twin, was really into forensic science and liked to have a reason for everything.  With her analytic mind, she actually sort of reminded me of Sherlock Holmes!  I loved her and really related with her because, like me, she seemed to love sharing random facts and her mind went to the strangest places.  Taylor was ruled more by her emotions and a real outspoken, feel-good kind of girl.   She was very clever too but kind of more squeamish and peace-loving.  And they were so close – they told each other everything.  I loved seeing the similarities and differences between the two girls.  Both had strong morals and the most awesome gifts!  They knew things they couldn't know, felt things, saw things.  They were like Nancy Drews with really special powers!  And their bond was really sweet and really powerful.
And, in a horrid way, I loved getting to know Katelyn. It was obvious straight away that she had been hurt – badly.  The loneliness she felt was dreadful; she felt like she had no one.  So many terrible things had happened to her, and she just cut herself off, thought she was worthless.  Words really can have absolutely dreadful consequences. And Katelyn lived through the twins - we saw into her head, her life, through the girls.
As the book went on, I must have had about a million suspects, quite literally suspecting everyone in the plot.  But a few of the characters I liked and actually didn’t suspect (yeah, I suspected loads of the characters I liked… I may be slightly paranoid) were the twins’ family.  Their dad Kevin was brilliant, with strong morals and a family orientated feel.  Also, he role played serial killer scenarios with his kids over the dinner table: he was just brilliantly odd!  Their mum Valerie was really supportive and I loved learning about her past.  The whole family love and closeness really made the whole crime thing stand out even more.  I can’t say anything else about the characters without giving the killer away, but I will say the vast range of people was brilliant, different and ever-so brilliantly described.  Just amazingly padded out and real – every single character.  Some I loved, some I hated, all were brilliant.
I loved the writing: Gregg had the suspense thing down to a fine art.  He gave us titbits about the bad guy – who was totally sadistic, btw – and I just had to know who he was!  Also, Gregg totally got teenagers, how they think, talk, act.  I loved the snark and that we also got to see everything from the adults' POV too.  It was brilliant to see how the two age groups saw everything differently.  And I just loved all the facts!  About what goes on in the pathologist, how Katelyn died (call me morbid and twisted, but I swear I was a CSI in a past life).  I also liked how everything was closed and how we got to see how everyone coped after.  And that I was still left with so many questions that left me desperate for Book 2!
I must say, normally, I'm good at guessing killers. But Envy... I had three suspects and four pages worth of notes, obsessing over movements, conversations.  Well.  I was wrong. I had an inkling at one point, then settled on a different - wrong - prime suspect. The way Olsen wrote made me completely oblivious and suspecting everyone. And left me honestly surprised at the outcome. 
Envy was amazing. I really loved it. It was exciting and new, thrilling and chilling.  I write notes as I read, and I ended up with four whole pages worth of notes.  Suspects, plotlines, theories, gushing about the twins and other characters.  That, more than anything to me, is a sign of a good book.  I mean, there really wasn't a bad word there. Well, unless you want to count a very, very bad word about a few of my least favourite characters. I just can't help being stunned by Envy. It pushes all the limitations of YA fiction, yet never actually crosses the line.  And it does all that without speaking down to the reader.  Gregg Olsen: you are amazing!  I cannot wait for Betrayal!  I may even check out some of his adult fiction! 

Cybercrime. While Envy's characters and paranormal sides were obviously fiction, the girls' death and the cyber bullying case was taken from a true story: The suicide of Megan Meier from Missouri in October 2006 brought about by the horribleness of cyber bullying.  It's just as dangerous as physical bullying, maybe more so.  You never know who someone is on the Internet, and cyber bullies use that to their advantage.  So please, please be careful!  And if all of you would like to know more, I'd tell you to you where Gregg told all readers to go:

Ok, so there are these letters in the front and back pages of my hardcopy that are meant to mean something to the readers. 
After hours of trying to solve the mysterious letters like an anagram on my scrabble board, just like the girls  did, I realised something: I.  Was.  An.  Idiot!  I am, apparently, not-so-mildly stupid.  So there you go.

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Crime Scene Investigations TV Shows
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendre Blake

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
Happy Reading
* This book was received from Splinter in exchange for an honest review


LeaMikhaela said...

many people loves to read books, just like my sister she really do loves reading books it may cause addiction..
addiction Psychology could help you with this, you should learn how to lessen in reading with books..

Ebony Black Lines said...

great review this book looks amazing and i love the cover too. :) I am hoping to get this from the library soon. x

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

LeaMikhaela: Now, reading is one addiction I don't think I'd be able to kick! But thanks!
Ebony: Thanks! It's awesome - I hope you like it! And, btw, your new blog is gorgeous!! You're amazing at picture-taking! :)