Thursday, June 11, 2015

Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel Review *Spoiler Alert*

1.5/5 Stars
Details of the Book
eARC, 272 pages
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Synopsis: In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own. 
No one knows whom to trust in this thrilling tale of suspense and deception.

Disorientated. That's how I feel after reading this book and I'm pretty sure that's how Heltzel wanted me to feel. The start of this book was so interesting. I was hooked into the plot in the first couple of pages. I mean, two girls who find out that their boyfriend was cheating on them with each other after he's presumed dead? And now they are piecing together their memories of their relationship to figure out who Charlie really was? That's already interesting. I didn't need anything else. If this was a book just centered around Aubrey and Lena comparing their relationship with Charlie to each other, I would have been happy. Instead the plot takes a really weird turn and the girls go on this implausible trip around the world looking for clues about Charlie's death. As soon as the girls embark on this trip, Heltzel lost me. The mysterious force that is pulling Lena and Aubrey along on this journey isn't mysterious at all and doesn't seem to have an actual purpose. The book ends on a cliffhanger but it didn't make me want to know what happens next. To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement. 

Strengths/Likes:

1) I really liked the development of Lena and Aubrey's relationship. They go through a lot together and Heltzel did a great job of writing their ups and downs. I found their bond very interesting and I wished the book focused more on that without the extra elements. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes (SPOILER ALERT): 

1) So, Charlie isn't dead and he's pulling all the strings to send Lena and Aubrey on this crazy journey. It's not clear why though. Is he crazy? Most likely but still. His motives are completely unclear, which makes it really difficult to understand exactly why he's created such an elaborate plan. Charlie as a character didn't make much sense to me either. How does he charm all these girls? How is he able to control people into doing what he wants? It's unclear and the reader is given no insight to his abilities which makes everything he accomplishes seem implausible. 

2) Why does Charlie want to kill Lena? If he wanted to kill Aubrey he would at least have a motive. But Lena? The girl that really loved him and stayed loyal to him, he wants to kill her? This makes absolutely no sense to me. 

3) Aubrey's huge secret that she's afraid of Charlie releasing. Well, it seems to me that her little adventure got her into deeper trouble than actually just coming out admitting herself what she did. I think that the book could have lived without this detail completely. In my opinion it didn't add anything to the plot except for extra drama.

Favorite Quotes/Moments: 

1) "Charlie is gone. His hands, weaving through mine. The way he whispered in my ear just before moving to kiss my neck. The muscles of his back under my fingers. His arms wrapped around me on a cold day, the scruff of his facial hair against my cheek, tickling. Making me laugh. Wrapping me into his coat with him in the park, and pulling me down into the snow. His lips on mine as he hovers above me. His nickname for me. All of it, gone. Ripped away. And I didn't even know he'd been ripping it away slowly all this time. All the times he said he'd meet me and he didn't, all the phone calls I waited for that never came, the distance: physical and emotional and always brutal."

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