Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

NOTE: This book has not yet been released. I was given a free Advance Reading Copy by HarperCollins and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on June 5, 2018. If you would like to send me an ARC, please see this page.

TITLE: Monday's Not Coming

AUTHOR: Tiffany D. Jackson

GENRE: mystery

PLOT SUMMARY: Claudia only has one friend: Monday Charles. For years, Monday has been more like a sister than a friend, and Claudia has no idea what she'd do without her. So when Monday doesn't respond to any of Claudia's letters all summer, she's confused. When Monday doesn't show up for the first day of school, she's worried. As days turn into weeks, it becomes increasingly clear that something isn't right. Worried for her friend's safety, and scared to face the world without her, Claudia's search for the truth leads her down a twisted path -- one that she may not come back from.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I was super-excited to be given this ARC. I'd heard amazing things about this author's previous book, Allegedly, which is still on my TBR list, so when I saw she had an upcoming release, I just had to try it. While it took me awhile to get into, Monday's Not Coming gradually drew me in, and by the time I was a hundred pages in, I just had to keep reading so I could find out what happened. While not perfect, this is a dark, extremely interesting mystery, one that I think would be perfect for fans of Reconstructing Amelia and Dare Me.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT:  I tend to really like "missing persons" stories, especially in YA, and I thought that the mystery in this book was really well-done. While I had a pretty good idea of how the story would end, I was genuinely shocked by a few revelations, and I was super-invested as Claudia's search for her best friend continued. However, there were a few weak points that really detracted from it, at least for me. There's a romantic subplot between Claudia and a boy from her church, Michael, and while I liked Michael a lot as a character, I thought that the romance between him and Claudia was really unneeded, and didn't add much to either of their characters. It's not so in-your-face that it ruins the book or anything, though. It's just kinda... there. My second issue is the fact that the story is told in anachronic order. While jumbled timelines can be a great storytelling device, this particular use of it felt confused, and made it pretty hard to keep a hold on what was happening when. Given the nature of a couple plot twists (no spoilers), I think this may have been intentional, but this didn't become apparent until the last couple chapters. Up until then, it just felt really disconcerting.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: One pitfall of the "missing BFF" plotline is that, more often than not, the BFF is underdeveloped and hard to care about. This was a very welcome exception, with Monday being a fully fleshed-out and lovable character. In another story, she could make a great heroine in her own right. But in this book, we have Claudia, who I found to be quite engaging and endearing. While she sometimes does really, really dumb things, you almost always understand why. (Spoiler alert: stressed-out, panicking fourteen year olds are prone to making poor choices. What a surprise.) I really liked a lot of the side characters, especially Claudia's favorite teacher, her parents, and Monday's older sister April, and I wish the narrative had spent more time letting us get to know them. Especially April, which surprised me, since at first, I didn't like her much at all. But as the book goes on, she turns out to be surprisingly interesting -- in addition to being kind of a bitch.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: As I mentioned above, the story is told out of order. This is both a strength and a weakness of the narrative. Jackson is great at writing Claudia's narration, and she did a pretty good job at keeping the conflicting timelines straight, but the further I got into the book, the more confused I got as to what was happening when. (This did not get better by the ending.) I found it was helpful to treat each chapter as its own separate thing, rather than a chunk of a larger story. All the chapters were connected, of course, but not so entwined that I couldn't do that. Overall, I thought that the prose and dialogue were excellent, but the story structure could be a tad disorienting.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: In terms of representation, this book is great. It features an entirely black cast, and Claudia has a learning disability. Dyslexia, to be precise. I can't speak for how accurate the portrayal of the dyslexia is, but it's treated with sensitivity and respect, with much emphasis being given to the fact that being dyslexic does not make Claudia stupid. The novel also focuses a lot on class differences, and how the fear of not being able to make enough money just to survive from day to day can affect someone's life. I have mixed feelings about the way mental illness is portrayed in the novel, but I can't get too much into it without going into spoiler territory. I will say that the book isn't ableist, at least not to me -- you read it and be the judge.

7 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: While this wasn't the best mystery/thriller I've read, Monday's Not Coming is a solid novel about friendship, fear, and the search for the truth. If you're not put off by the anachronic order, I'd suggest giving it a read, especially if you're searching for more diverse fiction. From what I've seen in other people's reviews, fans of Jackson's other works have not been disappointed, and it has definitely made me want to finally get to reading Allegedly. I think Monday's Not Coming will appeal to a lot of people, and make for a great reading experience.



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