Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: August 3, 2021
The only part of this novel that I truly enjoyed was the prologue and the epilogue since they are similar to a book I did enjoy, “These Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. In both books a teenage girl who, after being raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her death. In this crime thriller, teenage girls and young women who may have hitchhiked on a deserted country road, which is frequently used by truck drivers, go missing. Stephens does a good job of scaring us with the highway description as well as the whole setting in this logging-town. I felt empathy for the girl who lost her father whom she was extremely close to since her mother had passed. Now a 17-year-old orphan, she goes to live with her aunt and uncle where life there is intolerable for her. She runs away and becomes another missing female. Other main characters are the sister of the girl who was murdered and found on the dreaded highway from hell. She comes to town searching for answers. There is also a young man in the storyline who seems to be thrown into the tale so there is a love interest. As an older woman, I am guessing his character is there for young female readers.
Then the story morphs into a violent, kidnapping tale with characters that appear to be Wonder Woman-like. I say this because in between the horrendous torture that the two women experience they still manage to have cheeky comeback dialogue. This didn’t feel believable considering all the mental and physical anguish they went through. I get what the author was aiming for—empowered females. But the writing comes off as if the message is ‘serial killers should never mess with kickass young women’. This is the real reason for my not being keen on the full novel. Still, I did appreciate the book’s message that needs to be told, and that the novel is based on a true story. Stephens even gives the reader phone numbers and websites with information on women who have gone missing and never found. Still, this novel simply wasn’t for me. However, it may be for you.
I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review
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