After the Woods
Farraor, Straus and Grioux, 2016
Genre: YA, Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Julia and her best friend, Liv, are running through the woods when Liv gets ahead of her and is attacked. What does Julia do? She jumps in and saves her, putting herself in the hands of the attacker. Now, a year later, Julia is safe, but suffering from PTSD and trying to get her life back. When a young woman's body is found buried in the woods, not far from where Julia was rescued, she's pulled back into her nightmare as she searches for a connection between this other young woman and herself. And Liv just keeps pulling further and further away from her, dating a complete loser, smoking, and doing drugs.
This is a YA psychological thriller for young adults, with a bit of a twist at the end meant to surprise the reader, but in reality, it's pretty obvious. There are plenty of clues for the reader to follow, and if Julia would accept them as important clues, she may have figured it out as well. However, despite Julia's need for facts and knowledge surrounding her abduction, she doesn't seem to take into account the clues that are right there in front of her.
Julia is suffering from PTSD and has found different ways of pushing people away from her. One of those is how she is straight forward about anything having to do with her abduction. She speaks about it candidly and enjoys pointing out any faux pas in conversation. She jumps on the chance to see people squirm when they slip up and she calls them on it. When Kellan MacDougall (the son of the detective who was in charge of her case) becomes involved in her life, things get really awkward. In fact, the only person Julia truly wants to talk to about her abduction and the body of the woman is Liv, but Liv is adamant that they just move on with their lives and forget it. So we don't really get to see her speaking honestly with someone about her experiences.
There is some romance between Julia and Kellan, but it isn't truly developed and feels fake. It happens way too easily, despite all the ways she manages to push him out and insult him. I would say this is true of a lot of the relationships as they mostly feel superficial. And although Liv is a big part of Julia's story, she's pulled away from her so much that she's rarely actually in the story and so we don't get to see the two of them interacting very much.
For a YA psychological thriller, this was okay. It's mostly plot driven, so relationships between characters are skimmed over as well as character development. Julia is somewhat developed, but beyond that, the side characters are pretty flat. So if you're okay with purely plot driven stories, you might enjoy figuring out the mystery (which isn't too difficult to discover), but you should still be prepared for the twist!