Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review - Envy (Empty Coffin, #1) by Gregg Olsen

Murder is such a dirty word...

In Port Gamble (aka "Empty Coffin"), Washington, truth is about as hard to come by as a sunny day. One minute Katelyn is a depressed teen with a loser life. The next, she's lying on a stainless steel slab, eyes glassy, skin frosted over, and very, very dead.       

Down the street from Katelyn, twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan can't escapte the encroaching winter darkness. As they recover from the shock of Katelyn's death, the realize how entwined they already are in the evil circulating Empty Coffin. 
And while they can't explain it, an unknown force pushes them to uncover the truth. 
Is Katelyn Port Gamble's first and only victim?

Based on a true cyberbullying crime.

Gregg Olsen’s Envy begins with the death of Kaitlyn, a teen girl, in her bathtub (hence, the beautifully haunting cover) in the small town of Port Gamble, Washington.  Was it an accident? A suicide? Murder?  This catapults twins Taylor and Hayley Ryan on a mission to find the truth.  Using their “twinsense,” the girls begin to slowly uncover what really happened to their classmate along with discovering a disturbing secret from the past.  This is the first novel in the Empty Coffin series.
Envy was a far different read from most other young adult novels that I’ve read before.  I found the omnipresent narrative to be a refreshing change, allowing me to witness scenes and conversations I may not have been able to take part in otherwise.  It also added an extra dose of suspense as I was constantly switching from one character’s scenes to another’s, much in the same way a thriller on the screen might be portrayed.  It was so different that, at first, I had trouble keeping up.  But I soon got used to this style of writing, and was definitely kept on edge because of it.  Each chapter kept me wanting more.  
In Envy, Olsen uses all of the characters involved to their utmost potential.  Another difference in his writing from others of the same genre.  A difference I highly welcomed and appreciated.  I loved that the adults in the story were given so much background and personality.  This is something I don’t see often in young adult books.  The adults weren’t just background noise.  They were real people with stories just as interesting and essential to the plot.  Every character was given the opportunity to shine, with personalities that made me love them, sympathize with them, or hate them.  I found myself able to relate to almost every characters situations and feelings.  Even those characters that I hated were written so well that I could find traits in their personalities that I could relate to.  A fact that deeply disconcerted me and made me evaluate what kind of a person I want to be.  This is something I really enjoyed reading in Envy, the reality.  No truth was sugarcoated.  
I had a lot of fun reading Envy.  It started out with a bang, winded down a little, and then picked up again at full speed.  I liked gaining bits of information at a time and slowly being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  There’s still so much I don’t know, and I am eager to find where this series is going to take me.  I loved the Ryan twins and I’m excited to take part in their journey to uncover the truth.
Gregg Olsen based some events in this book off of a true cyberbullying incident that led to the suicide of an actual teen girl.  As shocking as this is, cyberbullying is real.  People need to realize that words can really hurt others.  Once you put something out in the digital world, it stays there.  I just want to remind everyone to mind their words.
5 out of 5 Stars 
Review by: Mary Munar

Author: Gregg Olsen
Publisher: Splinter (Sterling Publishing)
Release Date: August 2011
Pages: 304

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