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Ivy can see glowing countdowns. She knows exactly how long everyone has until they die, including herself, which is one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds from now, much shorter than she would like it to be. She’s already missed saving her best friend from her countdown and a misjudgment doomed another girl. Is it possible to save anyone from what will happen? If she can’t save herself then she’s bound and determined to set what she can aright before she passes on.
This is a slow burn, you aren’t even sure anything is really happening until suddenly you are at 50% and you realize you are loving it. The premise is not a unique one, but who cares I say… many ideas have been thought up before… the real question is was the premise well used in the story? Yes! Ivy seeing the countdowns is integral to her being able to move forward confidently to solve the murders but also to heal her own life and her loved ones. I saw the countdowns as a really strong metaphor for the confidence and boldness we need to approach life. I really loved how the theme worked it’s way so well around the mystery as well as Ivy’s own life.
What made this work so well for me was how real Ivy was. She wasn’t obnoxious about being a teenager and living a hard life. It was what it was and she was trying to deal with it. Yes, she had sex with her boyfriend but it wasn’t waved around like a flag of triumph because there was sex in a YA book but because it was pertinent to her relationship with Myers. The details were incredibly well layered into her day to day life. She would run to Hallett and sit with the old people. She tagged the night train to spread her art. She was in theater because her best friend was a star. She worked at a diner because her mom couldn’t do it alone. She watched her ex from behind a tree because she missed him. Her life was incredibly rich and full! You really cared what happened to this chick and not because I thought she was a perfect person but because you want someone who tries so hard in life to live.
I really loved the mystery. I’m not a fan of modern thriller stories that are just for thrills and giggles. I like the true blue mystery mysteries where the point is the puzzle. I liked the subtle touch of a few thriller parts mixed with the clues and the waiting for the pieces to come together. It may feel obvious when you learn who the serial killer is but I don’t think it was obvious for a second. The layers were so well laid that by the time Ivy ruled out her suspects she learned the vital piece of evidence. It fell into place just how it would fall into place if you lived in a small town where you knew everyone but everyone still has secrets to hide. There wasn’t a ton of clue tracking which gets tedious when a teenager is doing the tracking, but just enough for her to piece together what she needed to know to figure it out.
Probably my favorite aspects of the book was her wacky relationships. Her flipped mother daughter roles. Her totally opposite sister. The hurt ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from. The boy who has a crush on her but realizes it way too late. The uncle and his diner workers. The new girl who becomes a friend. The teacher who tapped into your pain through a play. The cop who won’t believe you. The old people who confide in you what it means to be at the end of your life. The crazy brother who wanted to punish her for not dying with his sister. And the best friend who died when you weren’t there for her. Subtle, nuanced and well developed they layer and build up to a picture of a world where one life was allowed to live.
The end though was the cherry on top. I loved how everything was filtered through saying goodbye. Knowing her time was close and that she wouldn’t be there to have a second change Ivy went out and did what she could. She put what was important first and let go of what didn’t matter. May we all learn to do the same!
BOTTOM LINE: A perfect blend of mystery, contemporary romance and coming of age.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.