After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.
Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?
Date Finished: 3-3-15
*I received an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review*
I really enjoyed the manifesto’s sprinkled throughout the text. Sometimes they give hints as to what’s going to happen, or a different perspective on what just happened, but without giving away too many hints at all. In fact, the manifesto’s didn’t help me solve the mystery at all. That was all Gabi’s doing. I really loved being able to figure out the truth along with the characters, even if I did figure it out about four pages before Gabi did. 😉
I must say that I wish the book had used more of the thriller elements. The beginning and ending of Are You Still There were definite page turning parts, but there were parts in the middle when the narrative had a bit of a lull in my opinion. There’s a bit of relationship drama, which, while it does help to characterize the characters who play crucial roles in the story, such as Eric, Janae, and Miguel, I felt like it played down the threat of the bombing. At the same time, I think that playing down the threat was actually a good tactic. I’m torn, because I wanted more action, but that lull actually makes the end a bit more dramatic, because nobody is really on edge after the initial bomb-threat given that months have passed at that point. Perhaps I wanted more action because immediately after finishing this book (and before writing this review) I started to read This Is Where It Ends, a book that takes place during a school shooting. This book is more psychological, while the other book is more of an action-packed emotional thriller, which has biased my view slightly.
All in all, I still enjoyed reading this. The characters are complex, and the plot is thrilling. I’d recommend this to fans of Caroline B. Cooney’s thrillers, or of any thriller in general. It’s a page turner, and I feel that anyone could enjoy this. 😀