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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Gritty Revenge Novel Affecting, But Not Exactly Enjoyable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since their junkie mom took off, 19-year-old Sadie Hunter has looked after her 13-year-old sister, Mattie.  Their existence is a tough one, but with the help of May Beth Foster, their landlord and pseudo grandmother, the girls manage to get along okay.  Until Mattie is discovered dead from a blunt force trauma wound to the head.  Overcome with grief and anger, Sadie's fury builds to a raging inferno as the police fail to solve her sister's murder.  Armed with only a switchblade and a few meager clues, Sadie finally sneaks off, determined to find Mattie's killer on her own—and make him pay.

When 68-year-old May Beth discovers that Sadie is missing, she grows frantic.  Her heart can't take the thought of another missing girl, especially one under her care.  Desperate, she begs radio personality Wes McCrae for help.  Sensing a juicy story, Wes creates a podcast to tell Sadie's story and to enlist his listeners in the search for the missing young woman.  The more deeply involved he becomes, the more he worries for obsessive, reckless Sadie.

In the meantime, Sadie's courting trouble by asking jeopardous questions of dangerous people.  Can Wes and Mary Beth stop her perilous quest before it's too late?  Or will Sadie's obsession with revenge lead to her own violent end?

For a YA novel, Sadie by Courtney Summers is decidedly dark, disturbing, and depressing.  It tells a gritty, unsettling story that I certainly would not want my teens reading.  That being said, it's a compelling book that tackles hefty issues (poverty, drug abuse, child abandonment, etc.) through the eyes of some very interesting characters.  Summers writes well, there's no doubt about that, but I had a hard time really enjoying Sadie.  It's a little too raw for my tastes and the ending, while satisfying on some levels, bugged on others.  Overall, then, I didn't love this one or even like it all that much.  I know I'm in the minority here because the novel is definitely affecting, it just wasn't my favorite.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, sexual content, references to/depictions of illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Sadie from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press via those at Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!



  1. I just gave my copy to one of our local high schools and the librarian said it was too dark for her, but that students are really liking it.

    1. Really? I would not be happy if one of my teens brought that book home from the high school library. LOL. Not that I actually have any idea what/if any criteria is used when stocking a high school library. I should find out.

  2. The book WAS dark and bleak. I gave it four stars, because it was really well written and I loved the incorporation of the podcast, but I am one of those people, who need a little light in the dark. I think this would have rated higher for me had the ending been more hopeful. Still a very compelling read.

    1. My thoughts EXACTLY. The B- is because the book was well-written and it made me think. It was just unrelentingly dark and raw. I agree with you -- I have to have at least a *little* bit of hope/light!

  3. I saw this book everywhere and with good reviews so I was curious of your take on it. I'm like you, I can't read a dark tale without some hopeful element, but today's teens seem to love gritty.

    1. Yeah, I'm definitely in the minority on this one. Lots of reviewers LOVED it and raved on and on about how great it was. I just didn't feel that way.

  4. I have this and really want to read it but know I have top be in the mood for something that dark.

    1. Maybe my mood had something to do with not liking this one very much. I read it on an airplane. LOL. I probably should have taken something lighter to read while traveling!

  5. I really don't like revenge novels. They're just not my bookish cup of hot chocolate. :)

    1. I have a hard time with them as well. I think it's because I prefer the hero/heroine of a story to have a story goal that's noble or unselfish or in some way contributes to the greater good. When it's selfish or pointless or nonsensical, I have a hard time getting on board.

  6. Do you know if it was actually intended as YA? People will shelve books as YA on Goodreads solely based on the age of the MC when they were written as Adult Fiction. Although, I have read plenty of YA that was marketed as YA that really wasn't. It steams me because parents should be able to rely on readership categories. 😒

    1. It's shelved in the library with the YA books, believe it or not. I've seen it advertised as having "crossover appeal," but in my opinion, it's more of an adult book because of content. I'm conservative in that way, though. I don't agree with all the books that are in my daughter's elementary school library either!


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