Khanh the Killjoy

TSTL sleuthing

Find Me - Romily Bernard

There was no single element that was terrible about this book, but the plot and the characters just didn't combine to form a book that I found remotely plausible. The plot is weak, the main character is unlikeable, the mystery barely exists, because it was so predictable, the side characters are black-or-white. Beyond that, the best test for a book is my enjoyment...and I just didn't enjoy this book.

Summary: Wick Tate has had a hard life. Her mother is dead. Her father is a felon on the run (see what I mean about parents in YA novels? Dead or gone). Wick is 16, almost 17, and a skilled hacker. So skilled, it is pretty damn unbelievable. She is living with the perfect family. Truly, Wick and her little sister Lily, have lucked out as far as foster families are concerned. Todd and Bren are youngish foster parents, they are wealthy, they are caring, they are pillars of the community, and they provide for Wick and Lily in every way. Despite that, Wick has no faith in them. 16-year old Wick makes a living on the side with her hacking skills as a private investigator for disgruntled wives and girlfriends who want to check up on their significant others. She hacks into bank accounts. She looks for evidence of cheating through email and social accounts. She looks for their other jobs. She maintains her anonymity in all of this.

Meanwhile, a detective named Carson has been trailing Wick everywhere she goes. He is investigating her deadbeat father's case, and seems to have a personal vendetta for Wick. He thinks her, a 16 year old girl, capable of aiding and abetting her meth-lab-operating father in his disappearance. His intrusion is borderline stalking.

At school, a girl named Tessa Waye, has died. Suicide. Wick doesn't buy it, because someone mysteriously sent her Tessa's journal on the day she died. From then on, Wick begins the investigation into Tessa's death with the aid of a fellow student.

The Plot: This is a teenage amateur detective novel of the lightest order, because it really does not take a genius to figure out the "whodunnit." I thought I had it completely figured out 25% of the way in, and it turned out, I was right. This may be a quasi-detective novel, but it's no Agatha Christie. There's not much guesswork at play here. This is a problem for me, because in as much as I don't like a mystery novel where the ending comes fuck out of nowhere, I also like to be able to think a little for myself.

I like to play armchair detective. I like a little guesswork. I love mysteries, and part of that is my love of figuring things out, to follow subtly given clues and see if I made the correct guess.

There was no such subtlety in this book. The bad guy was so obvious that my 12-year old self reading The Baby Sitters' Club Mysteries could have figured it out. The villain was so blatant that it took away much of the enjoyment that a reader derives from reading a mystery.

The events rather stretch the boundaries a little bit. I'm willing to be flexible when it comes to fiction, but really, am I supposed to believe that at the age of 16, Wick has been a hacker/cyber investigator for 3-4 years? Let's go back in time. 3-4 years ago, Wick was being bounced around in foster homes. Her mother committed suicide when she was 11. Her father started his meth lab when Wick was 5.

Wick also has a younger sister, Lily, of whom she is overwhelmingly protective. Am I supposed to believe that during all this time, during her childhood full of abuse, living on tenterhooks because her father was a drug dealer, dealing with her mother's depression, trying to take care of her baby sister---somehow in the fuck of all this mess that is her life, Wick manages to also become a brilliant hacker at the age of 12? While being bounced around in foster homes?

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to believe that every single fucking adult in this book are idiotic, incompetent, completely incapable, as Wick does?

You see, adults mess things up even when they’re trying to fix them. No. Check that. They mess things up especially when they’re trying to fix them. I mean, think about how they tried to save us from our dad, how they tried to help my mom. Failure all the way around.

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to empathize with a main character with a chip on her back the size of Russia? Who believes that the whole world and its' cousin in law is out to get her?

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to believe that a it's wise to leave a message on a dead girl's Facebook account, leaving the provocative message of "I know who killed me" and expect to stay nice and safe while she draws the killer out?

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to believe that a teenaged girl would kill herself and nobody---not even the police---would even think to look at her online accounts and emails and her life, given this day and age to see what went wrong?

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to believe that withholding evidence from the police is a wise idea because a kid can investigate the deaths so much better than professionals?

The answer is no.

Am I supposed to believe that the entire police department are stupid and corrupt, and one detective is so fiendishly evil that he would call Wick "trash" to her face? That he would believe a16 year old GIRL capable of such trickery and wiliness that he would tail her around constantly?

The answer is no.

Yes, I know the police can be corrupt. Humans are corrupt. Law enforcement officials are human. But it stretches my belief when everything is so black-and-white as Wick would see it. The overwhelming sense of this book is that because Wick BELIEVES everyone is incompetent and evil, it is true. Life doesn't work that way.

The Main Character: Wick is not a likeable heroine. The summary says it all: "Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare." It is wholly evident in the book. She sees herself as Robin Hood when she engages in hacking. I don't think she is quite so noble.

I didn't like Wick. She is selfish. She has no trust in authority figures, even when said authority figures are trying their very best to do right by her and her sister. According to Wick, the entire world is false. They smile at her with a Cheshire Cat's grin. She trusts no one but herself. Given her past, I can overlook her attitude and distrust, but only to a certain extent. Wick's overwhelming attitude can only be overlooked for so long before it grated on my nerves, and I found myself barely able to tolerate her.

Her evolution in the book for the better is seen only in that she stops being an asshole and somewhat ceases her bitchy commentary towards everyone in her life.

Wick is selfish. She has a good life, she won the fucking foster family lottery. Yet she seeks to endanger it at every turn by doing her highly illegal hacking jobs. It puts her and her sister in danger of losing their home with Todd and Bren. Lily, the wise 11-year old, sees it, and points it out to Wick. Wick doesn't give a crap, because she doesn't care, and she trusts no one but herself. Chip on her shoulders, indeed.

The Romance: The lurve hit me from out of nowhere. Really. Griff has been her classmate for years, they've barely spoken, then all of a sudden he breaks into her bedroom, and Wick thins "Hey, he's not so bad after all," and then a few days later, this happens out of no-fucking-where:

Everywhere he’s touching and everywhere he’s touched is lighting up. I feel like I’ve swallowed the sun.

Wha---what? How?! Do I believe that?

The answer is no.