Missing by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Genres: YA, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary
For Fans of: Kelley Armstrong, the Taken movies, predictable quick-read mystery novels
My rating: 2 stars out of 5
The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.
The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.
But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?
Have I outgrown Kelley Armstrong, or was this just not good?
Winter Crane is a small-town girl who dreams of escaping her small town and becoming a doctor. She spends her days hiding out from her abusive father, tutoring kids to collect money for college, and working at the local doctor’s office to gain some experience before she runs off to med school. Winter’s relatively simple life is turned upside down when she rescues a city boy she finds in the woods, only to become a object of interest to the man who was stalking him.
When I saw that Kelley Armstrong has a mystery novel out, I was pretty psyched. I really liked her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. I even enjoyed most of her adult PNR novellas. I loved her slow-build narrative, and her slow burn romances. I loved how her stories were thought out, and intricately weaved.
Like most novels that have pissed me off lately, Missing falls into the Telling-Not-Showing trap very, very often. Winter Crane spends her entire time breaking every thing down for us, and voicing her every thought, I just felt like I was reading the transcripts to a bad mystery documentary. It felt like Ms. Armstrong couldn’t decide what kind of character she wanted Winter to be. Winter went from mind-numbingly stupid (see: crawling into an underground bunker alone when being chased by a murderous psychopath), to a super-sleuth (see:finding FIBERS from cloth used to pad rope used to hang a corpse with??? Are you kidding me with this shit?) in the space of just a few paragraphs. It was disorienting.
Also, a lot of information we were given about Winter seemed pointless. Her ability to use a bow and arrows, for instance. Apart from the moment this skill is introduced, and one inconsequential moment after that, SHE NEVER USES IT. Instead, she opts to carry a switchblade and a knife that she doesn’t know how to use. Which, to be fair, was her being practical. It wasn’t like she could carry around a bow and arrow, but why tell us about the ability to shoot? Why make it seem important if it’s never going to come into play when it really matters??
The other characters were about as bad as Winter. Lennon was a joke. Two-dimensional and forced-woke. Every time he said something that COULD have been admirable and made him likable had he been written better, I just cringed. Pro-tip for writers everywhere. Woke is good. Just give your character enough personality so that he doesn’t come off like a robot who’s been commanded to say these things. Like, God.
Jude was probably the only character I … sorta liked? Tolerated? The character who least made me want to slam my head against a wall? Yes. Let’s go with that. But even he felt wooden and two-dimensional – put in place just so that Winter could have a love interest who didn’t disappear twenty pages after he’d been introduced.
Missing was also predictable as hell. I figured out the entire plot about a hundred pages in. Yeah, Winter, I watched CSI too, even Miami. And Criminal Minds. You’re not the only one who can piece together a few clues. Actually, no. You can’t. I mean [SPOILER: when a creepy man corners you in a dark room at a big party and tells you that you aren’t like your sister (who you’ve never mentioned to anyone) why isn’t your first thought, “maybe he’s the dude who’s been stalking me and killing animals and making my life a general shitfest these past few days”??? WHY].
All in all, this book was incredibly disappointing. It felt like the mystery and suspense (the little of it there was) was only an excuse to bring Winter and Jude together. Because ultimately that’s what this book felt like – a weak romance with a feeble mystery subplot to tacked on to spice things up.
It got an extra star for not being so bad that I had to DNF. But bleh.
I expected more from you, Ms. Armstrong.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.