I received a psychical ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where on earth do I start this review?! ‘Dead to You’ was such a fantastic book, I’m literally so overwhelmed by the emotion and pain that was conveyed throughout this book that my mind has gone blank. The synopsis of this novel was vague and not overly informative – so I started reading this book with not very high expectations. I was expecting ‘Dead to You’ to be a slightly emotional read, with a basic, not that gripping plot. I didn’t think there would be a whole lot to work with regarding the basic plot line - however, I was completely wrong!
The DeWilde’s family was turned upside down 9 years ago when their 7 year old son, Ethan was kidnapped right from their front garden. Ethan was raised by a woman, who then proceeded to dump him in a group home a few years later. At 16 years old, Ethan is found and reunited with his parents, younger brother; Blake and a little sister he’s never met. Even though this should be an emotional, joyful and happy time, Ethan has gaps in his memory - secrets that have been locked away and that might tear his family apart.
‘Dead to You’ was a relatively short novel that I whizzed through in no time. Even though the novel takes off very quickly, where Ethan is finally going home, I thought that the first quarter of it was quite slow. Although once I had about 30 or so pages read, it really started to pick up. The chapters in the novel are quite short, sometimes only one or two pages per chapter. Normally, this would annoy me; mainly because when chapters end, the scenes generally jump. However, at the beginning of each chapter, the book would more or less continue on where it was left off at the end of the previous chapter.
Ethan’s character was really interesting and quite frankly – I loved him. I loved how he still managed to act like a normal teenager even after all he’d been through. There was something about Ethan’s character that made it hard to not like him. I’ve not read a whole lot of novels in the perspective of a male character – and it was so much fun to read about Ethan’s thoughts and outlook on life. I also loved how Cami, his childhood friend, managed to spark his teenage love and yearning. It was amazing to watch their relationship develop and progress. However, I did find it a little bit annoying about how obsessed Ethan became with Cami. I know that he’s a teenage boy, but he’s only just come back to his family after nine years of being apart. I really think he needed to sort out his priorities.
All of the characters in this novel were very well developed and interesting to read about – especially Blake, Ethan’s younger brother. I didn’t particularly like Blake, mainly because he was so angst filled and acting like an idiot throughout most of the book. I also thought the family tension in this novel was handled incredibly well, I felt I could almost feel it rolling in waves off the pages. The situation that the DeWilde’s family were in was obviously very stressful, emotional and a sensitive subject. I think that it’s a very difficult situation to write about, but Lisa McMann managed to create the environment really well and managed not to over or under do it.
The ending of this novel had the most frustrating and crazy, yet amazing and perfect end. On one hand, it was the perfect ending, especially if the book turns out to be a standalone novel. However, on the other hand, I NEED to know MORE! I think Lisa McMann took a big risk making the book end the way it did, mainly because I’ve read a few reviews that say it lowered their rating of the book. This was not my opinion at all, and I think it was great whether it turns out to be a standalone novel or not.
Overall I thought this book was a really great read. It took me a great deal of time to decide to rate this 4/5 stars or 5/5 stars. In the end I settled for the 4/5 star rating, mainly because; although I really did enjoy this book – it was not without its faults. But I've not come across a book without any faults at all in my entire time of reading. I really did enjoy reading ‘Dead to You’, and Lisa McMann’s writing is beautiful and very relatable. I can’t wait to read more from her in the future!