Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Drama Publication.Date June 10th 2014 (paperback) Pages: 336 Published By: HMH Books for Young Readers Author Laura Ellen Blind Spot on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.
There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.
Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer. This unflinchingly emotional novel is written in the powerful first-person voice of a legally blind teen who just wants to be like everyone else.
I'm used to piecing things together. My central vision is blocked by dots that hide things from me, leaving my brain to fill in the blanks. My brain doesn't always get it right. I misinterpret, make mistakes. But my memory? It's always been the one thing I could count on, saving me time after time from major humiliation. I can something once and remember it exactly - the layout of a room, the contents of a page, anything.
Just as there are stars in the sky that you cant see until nightfall, I realized there were things there in front of me that I'd missed.
While certainly entertaining and quite captivating, Blind Spot is hardly an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery. That wouldn't necessary be a bad thing, if it wasn't marketed as one. And it really isn't a bad book, in fact, I quite enjoyed all the drama. And though I expected something entirely different (based on the synopsis), I still had fun reading about the silly love affairs, betrayals and backstabbings, troubled teens and vengeful teachers. Most of all, I found the premise of the book really fascinating and full of potential (not entirely realized potential, but still). It was interesting to read about the lead character's disability and consider all the difficulties she'd have to face in her life.
The body of a teenage girl, Tricia Farni, was pulled from the local river. Tricia disappeared 6 months earlier after leaving a homecoming party at Birch Hill. Just before she disappeared she got into a fight with our MC, Roz, her cheating boyfriend, Jonathan, and their AP history teacher, Mr. Dellian. To Roz, that night is one big blur. She has witnessed Jonathan cheating on her with Tricia and got drunk. She then passed out and doesn't remember what exactly happened. She doesn't even remember how she got back home. All she has is bits and pieces of memories and images that don't make much sense. She now needs to figure out what happened to Tricia that night and who is responsible for her disappearance.
As thrilling and exciting as it sounds, the murder mystery serves only as the backdrop to a plot line focused almost entirely on highschool drama, dating, cheating and getting out of special ed class. And it isn't much of a murder mystery to begin with, but that's yet another plot twist we get to discover as we read on. While Tricia's disappearence takes the back seat to everything else, and it only really becomes the center of the plot line in the last 1/3 of the book (the first 2/3 happens before the prom night), the book is still quite intense and engaging. We know from the get-go that something bad will happen to Tricia, and we get to know her a bit through Roz's first-person narrative, which allows us to get more engaged in her story. We don't necessarily care about Tricia, as she's not exactly a likeable character. She doesn't get along with people, including Roz. But we at least get to understand her better. ("The whipped-cream-squirting, cloak-twirling, I-don't-give-a-shit routine was all an act. Underneath she was a defeated, deflated shell of a girl stuggling to rerght herself. Fighting for control. Broken.").
Blind Spot is filled with characters that are perfectly imperfect. Some are damaged goods, some are lost and trying desperately to find themselves, some are misunderstood and some are downight annoying. It's all too easy to get frustrated with them and not easy at all to relate to them. That being said, I still find all these characters fascinating to read about. Most of them are complex and multi-layered, and not at all what they initially seem to be. Getting to know them and discovering their true selves is part of the fun.
The book touches on many different things - some more serious than others - but doesn't really explore any of them in depth. Roz is legally blind due to the macular degeneration she struggles with, yet all we really learn about her disability is that a) a dot obscures her central vision and therefore to see something/someone, she has to focus on the object/area to the side b) that her condition often results in awkward situations and misunderstandings and c) that she doesn't consider herself disabled in any way and hates when she's labeled disabled by others. We hardly get any insight in how her disability makes her feel (other than mad at the entire world), we don't get to see how it affects her family/peer relationships (other than that her mother insists on Roz's special ed class, and that her friends often think Roz is purposefully ignoring them) and we don't really get to explore her psyche in depth. For the most part, Roz is too focused on dating and keeping her gorgeous (and incredibly narcissistic) new boyfriend happy. And if she's not doing that, she's usually fighting with everyone else - from her teachers to her classmates.
When I finished reading Blind Spot, I sat there for a while trying to decide whether I liked the book or not. I was a bit disappointed, but then again, my disappointment stems from the misleading synopsis, and why should we punish the book for that? The more I thought about the plot and the characters, the more I appreciated the story. It was a good story. The ending was a bit disappointing, yes, but the book had so much more going for it than just that murder mystery everyone was so counting on. So don't think of Blind Spot in terms of a thriller or even a mystery, because you'll end up being disappointed or/and frustrated, think of it as a character study and human drama. It's a story about how sometimes we fail to see things that are right in front of us. A story about mistakes, misunderstandings and misplaced trust.
Blind Spot really is a good book, so if you enjoy dramatic plot lines, flawed characters and real-life struggles, chances are you'll like it just as much as I did, if not more!
About the author
Laura Ellen writes YA contemporary mysteries and thrillers from her home in Arizona, while also freelancing as a manuscript consultant for aspiring authors. She has a MA in Children’s Literature and began her career as a teacher in both Language Arts and special education. Diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration as a teen, she drew upon her own experiences with vision loss to write her debut YA thriller Blind Spot, an emotional and suspenseful page-turner. Laura is represented by Jill Corcoran at Jill Corcoran Literary Agency and is part of the Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis blog crew. Want to know more about Laura Ellen? Go to www.lauraellenbooks.com or catch her on twitter @lauraellenbooks or facebook
Giveaway Open to US Only | Must be 13+ To Enter
One Winner will get signed copies of BLIND SPOT and DEAR TEEN ME as well as a BLIND SPOT swag pack that includes, gum, magnet and magnifying glass bookmark.