(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Scarlett Contreras has always loved Skywoman, a dazzling comic book superhero who uses her powers to protect the people of Silver City from evil villains. It was the image of her heroine swooping in to save the world from a deadly meteor crash that Scarlett kept in her mind to give her courage during the years-long abduction that changed her young life irrevocably. It's what helped her take advantage of a rare opportunity to escape. It's what led her back home to her father and her younger siblings.
Still overwhelmed by the ability to make decisions for herself, Scarlett is nevertheless determined to live a normal life. Getting a job at Five Banners Adventure World, an amusement park based on the Skywoman stories, feels like something an average teen would do. Her first day on the job, Scarlett hears the shocking news—a teenage girl has vanished from the park without a trace. Scarlett can't shake the terrifying feeling that the disappearance is her fault. When a co-worker starts acting strangely around her, saying things that seem like echoes from the time Scarlett is trying so hard to forget, her sense of foreboding heightens. Is Scarlett being paranoid? Or have the ghosts of her past come back to haunt her?
When I read the premise for Never Missing, Never Found—a new YA novel by Amanda Panitch—I knew I wanted to read it. Unlike romance, dystopian, and sci fi/fantasy, mystery/suspense is not a popular genre in the YA world. This alone made the book appealing to me. So, when the good folks at Penguin Random House asked me to be part of the Never Missing, Never Found blog tour, I happily agreed. What did I think of the novel? It's a fast, compelling read. The carnival setting gives it an otherworldly, spooky vibe that adds to the tension of the story. Scarlett and her cohorts are likable enough, although not terribly memorable. The writing gets melodramatic at times and the story, which is ultimately about hope, feels pretty depressing. Although I saw the novel's big twist coming, the plot kept me turning pages. Overall, I didn't enjoy Never Missing, Never Found as much as I wanted to—still, it made for an exciting read. I liked it, just didn't love it.
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, depictions of underage drinking, and disturbing subject matter
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Never Missing, Never Found from the generous folks at Penguin Random House. Thank you!