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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Plot Holes and Unsatisfying Ending Make Teen Search and Rescue Novel a Disappointing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Kira Bennett knows what it means to be a kid lost and alone in the wilderness.  The memories of her earliest years as a feral child doing whatever it takes to survive still haunt her, even though she was rescued at five years old and adopted into a loving family.  Now 17, Kira finds purpose in helping her adoptive mother train Search and Rescue dogs, so no one—especially a child—has to live the way she once did.

When Bales Bennett, Kira's estranged birth father, comes to her adoptive family asking for help locating a child who's gone missing from a campsite, Kira wants in.  Along with her adoptive mother, foster brother, and two of their friends (including the hot, but possibly dangerous Gabriel Cortez), the group of handlers head to Sierra Glades National Park with one goal: find 9-year-old Bella Anthony.  As the search grows increasingly dangerous, Kira is pummelled with crushing memories of her own past, especially as secrets about her birth parents and her new family start coming to light.  Can Kira clear her head enough to find little Bella?  What truths will she learn about herself along the way?

Books about search and rescue operations in remote wilderness settings always intrigue me, so naturally, I was drawn to The Lovely and the Lost, a YA novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.  It's peopled with characters who are likable, but not original or really memorable.  The teens don't speak like real kids, nor are they really treated as such since they have little adult supervision throughout the novel and are basically left to do whatever they please.  This, as well as the fact that the teens are even involved in a search and rescue operation of this kind, makes the plot seem far-fetched.  The purpose behind Bella's disappearance also seems illogical.  The story is fast-paced, though, as well as compelling, even if it doesn't always make sense.  I appreciate that The Lovely and the Lost is a clean YA novel with no annoying insta-love, but for me, there are some big holes in its construction.  Add to that a weird, unsatisfying ending and, meh, this read just didn't do it for me.  It was propelling enough that I finished the book, but I certainly didn't love it.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, scenes of peril, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Lovely and the Lost at Barnes & Noble with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. I'm always drawn to books like this, too. So I'm sad this one ended up being so flawed and disappointing.

    1. Right? I really wanted to love this one because I do like its premise.

      On the upside, I just finished DOG DRIVEN by Terry Lynn Johnson and it's really good. I think you'll like it.

  2. I don't read many YA novels these days, but I'm considering two from Australia for review purposes right now and I'm wondering what to expect and how to review them. I'm always afraid that I expect too much from them, and sometimes feel that the authors are kind of talking down to the younger readers. That makes me hesitant to even review YA stuff anymore.

    1. I guess it depends on the kind of YA novel you're reviewing. Some of them are complex and beautiful, others are melodramatic and silly. When I read YA, I generally avoid romances and go for mysteries, thrillers, historical, action/adventure, ghost-ish stories, dystopian, and contemporary issue novels. There are definitely some excellent YA books out there as well as some major duds!

  3. I’ve not read this one, but I have found her books to be fairly simple but entertaining. Definitely geared for younger teens. Some plot holes, but fast moving. I’ll probably pass on this one.


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