Narrator: Vanessa Moyen
Series: Hometown Antihero #1
Published by MacMillan Audio
Published on 4 September 2018
Genres: Thriller, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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From Amber Lynn Natusch, author of the Force of Nature series, comes her first young adult thrilling novel of suspense with Dare You to Lie.
When her FBI agent father is framed for murder, Kylene is forced to move in with her grandfather, back to the small town that turned its back on her, and the boy who betrayed her.
All Ky cares about is clearing her father’s name, but someone won’t let her forget the photo scandal that drove her away two years ago. As the threats gain momentum, Ky finds an unlikely ally in the rookie FBI agent sent to keep an eye on her.
Determined to expose the town's hidden skeletons, Ky unwittingly thrusts herself into a much bigger plot. They thought she’d forgive and forget. They’re about to learn they messed with the wrong girl.
This book was about 1 girl and about a hundred dudes.
The male/female ratio of this book was way off. The main character was female, and she had literally 1 female friend. Everyone else in this novel, except for a victim of domestic abuse and a ‘cool aunt’ archetype, was male. Literally every single one. She didn’t even have an on-page mother. All the other girls were nameless airheads or your typical mean girl slut. And there was lots of slut-shaming. Combining this with some pretty tired cliches, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the opening few pages. But it got better.
This was my first bully novel and I was kind of hoping it would also turn into a reverse harem because there was just so. Many. Dicks. There was the incarcerated dad, the jail warden grandfather, the dad’s FBI partner, the hotshot FBI rookie, the martial artist we saw for a whole one scene, then there was also the male best friend, the ex-boyfriend, the bully, and of course the bully’s goons. SO MANY GUYS. And no romance with any of them. It would almost be a waste, except that Kylene clearly showed she doesn’t need a man to kick butt and take names.
So Ky’s two main conflicts in this novel were to try to get her dad out of jail by proving he was framed for murder, and to find out what really happened 2 years ago when a scandal caused her to flee the town – and the football team.
I really liked her platonic friendship with Garret, who seemed like a brooding big brother type. Her chemistry with her ex-boyfriend was written but unbelievable, and there was no romance. I thought there might have been with the hotshot rookie, because he was only 19 and he was described in the way all YA love interests are when they first meet (not even Garret got that kind of introduction) but there was none there either – I think it’s being set up for the second novel because Ky thinks he’s really hot, although an asshole, and he comes to respect her. And it actually really worked, because Ky was way too busy, determined, and focused to let romance sway her. Unfortunately, like most teen mysteries I’ve read, Ky didn’t make much progress on her investigation until well over halfway. That didn’t seem to matter so much, because she was dealing with taking down quite a scary bully, and because of the several sub-plots, the pace was kept quite high all along this book.
Ky seemed smart and only did dumb things about half the time. She seemed to thrive on drama and throwing herself into situations where she came off as the hero. She was brave, curious, a smart-mouth, and thanks to years of Muay Thai martial arts training, even though she is a tiny little petite blonde thing, she’s mostly capable of looking after herself, except when it suits the plot to have someone rescue her. This means that when the bully comes after her, she mostly holds her own.
However, I felt that this made Ky verging on a super-powered teen, especially since none of the other women in the novel were half as cool, or smart, or tough. I know it was literally her against the world, but she was just so damn capable, and self-assured. Nothing rattled her, not even being stalked and threatened. I honestly don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing: I think some readers will really like this, but some readers might be looking for someone with a little more character growth to sympathise with. To be honest, at times I found myself wondering if she was a self-insertion, and I do not like to think about such things.
I solved the main mystery long before Ky did. It was obvious. As in, jumping up and down holding an ‘I’m the secret bad guy!’ sign lit up in neon.
Overall, for my first bully novel, I really enjoyed it. The narrator in the audiobook was capable, and did different voices for different characters which I never realised I appreciated so much. I eagerly put the next book in this duology on hold at my local library.
PS I’ve never seen Veronica Mars or Riverdale, so I can’t say if it has similar vibes.