Bit of an odd book this one. I quite enjoyed it and it only took the best part of a day to read, but...yeah. Bit odd, really.
The premise revolves around a new hallucinogenic drug that’s out on the streets called Nostalgex. Take one or two pills and your memory is enhanced so that you can pass any test. Take more and you can relive the best memories of your life like you’re really there.
On New Year ’s Eve, Jess discovers that her best friend, Scarlett, and her boyfriend, Luke, are cheating and that Luke is also dealing Nostalgex, but before she can confront them a house fire breaks out. Meanwhile, a few streets away, Sam Cooper, Jess’s ex, has wandered into the path of a local Nostalgex dealer and finds himself entangled far further than he ever imagined possible. Jess and Cooper’s worlds collide again as they work together to sort the whole mess out.
The plot took a little while to get into and seemed to move quite slowly at first, but once it got going it rattled along nicely and there was a superb twisty-type ending that I didn’t see coming but made total sense. There were a few leaps of logic but nothing too serious, so yeah, the plot was pretty good and all added up to a decent YA thriller.
The writing was nice and gritty, which suited the subject matter and added to the who’s-gonna-die-next suspense. Fans of purple prose should probably look away now, because this book won’t be your kind of thing!
My main issue with the book was the characters.
I liked Cooper. He was my favourite. He was kind of goofy and charming and he did some dumb things (crashing a party to steal booze is rarely a good idea), but he had a good heart and was loyal, so yeah, I liked Cooper. Jag, too, was a lot of fun and he and Cooper seemed to have this slightly comedy double-act thing going on which was really nice to read.
Jess annoyed me a bit, though. She was a clever girl, and dedicated to her studies, but apparently this intelligence didn’t extend to her choice of boyfriend. Luke was an absolute cockwomble! Seriously, now, does anyone actually think that gaslighting is ever acceptable in a relationship? Or grabbing your girlfriend’s arm so hard it leaves bruises? Or smashing your fist through a car window to get her attention?
It was weird, but when the book started, I got the impression that Luke was a really nice guy, but then Jess started dropping these little hints about how rotten he was to her, leaving me thinking, ‘Well, what were you DOING with him, then?’ Because it’s not like Jess doesn’t have options. Like I said, she’s bright, she comes from a relatively happy, non-abusive home, she’s got loads going for her. I didn’t get why it took her so long to realise that Luke’s behaviour was abusive and the fact that she didn’t just kick Luke to the curb once she did realise it, confused me a lot.
Still, the plot and writing held the book together and although I’m still going to be tutting over Jess’s poor taste in men for a couple of days, this was still a pretty good read.