Khanh the Killjoy

Pretty Little Liars wannabe

The Secrets of Lily Graves - Sarah Strohmeyer
“You know what I think?” I said. “I think whoever killed Erin knew about you and me and her.” I carefully sidestepped the term love triangle, since I didn’t want to go there.

Girl, you went there.

This wasn't a terrible book, but it was completely generic, lackluster, and half-assed in every way. There's kind of a love triangle, and there's kind of cheating, but not really, because the two main characters kind of made swoony eyes at each other and literally nothing else for 99% of the book. There was no romance. Don't come in here expecting a love story of any sort. It's emo teenaged wangst, and that's it. Despite the tantalizing hint of a grand romance, there really wasn't anything of the sort, and trust me when I say that I'm the first to jump up and yell "THIS BOOK HAD TOO MUCH ROMANCE IN IT!" This book just had no love.

The mystery is half-hearted. It was solved with an overreliance of deus ex fucking machina in which the main character is privy to everything that the police knows. There was a not-terribly-Mean Girls clique. There is a half-hearted stalker. There are people who would blurt out very convenient information with the slightest of provocation. There is a love interest who might be the killer, and who is luurved by the main character, but he's roughly as dangerous as this bunny.

He is just so uninteresting and completely dull in every way that I just didn't really give a flying fuck when the main character is all "I KNOW ALL THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO HIM BUT HE DIDN'T DO IT BECAUSE I KNOW HE DIDN'T DO IT. NYAH!"

This book also has a somewhat offensive portrayal of Christians. Let's get one thing straight, I'm not Christian,fuck , I'm not the least bit religious. I'm against organized religion in general, and even I felt like this book portrayed Christianity in a very negative light. The type of Christianity portrayed here is the far-right, very religious type with daddy-daughter "Weddings" and "Purity Rings" and fanatically religious Mormons. This book doesn't name the religion outright, but it's pretty fucking obvious that this book talks about Mormonism. If you're easily offended by that, don't bother with this book.

The Summary:

I would never see Erin again.
At least, not alive.

Lily Graves is just having an average day, cleaning up the cemetary in a Morticia Addams-style gown when the school Queen Bee and her archenemy, Erin Donohue shows up. Erin goes batshit crazy, blames Lily for her breakup with school jock/boyfriend of three years, Matt and proceeds to scratch and claw the fuck out of Lily.

...yanking my black hair, slapping, biting, and finally digging her nails into the delicate flesh of my forearm.
I reared back in pain and horror as blood gushed out in rivulets, running over my wrists onto the browning grass. Her nails had been filed into seriously badass points.

Erin finally leaves, with a :DDDDDD bye! See you Monday! ^_^_^_^_^_^ (the "bitch!" is implied), only Lily will never see Erin again, because that night, Erin commits suicide.

Or so they say.

It turns out that not all is well with the picture-perfect Erin. For starters, Erin's boyfriend Matt has been engaging in a secret flirtation with Lily. It all started with a tutoring session, which leads to driving lessons...on his lap.

“You honestly want me to sit on your lap?”
“And put your feet over mine. That way you’ll get the feel of how and when to release the clutch.”

Well, one thing's for sure, she'll know when he releases HIS clutch...all over her thighs.

I don't know about you, but teaching someone to drive a manual shift while sitting on his lap is all sorts of stupid and dangerous. From personal experience, if a somewhat decent looking girl with a decent face with a nicely cushioned arse sits on a guy's lap, it's going to end in an erection 92.8% of the time. But Lily is charmed! She learns to drive! Hopefully not with HIS stick shift, but whatever.

Erin found out about Matt & Lily, she's furious. She told everyone. And now she's dead.

Naturally, the main suspect is Matt. When a woman disappears, chances are it's one of the main men in her life who did her in. Also naturally, Lily doesn't believe Matt's guilty at all. She sets out to prove his innocence.

“Let it go.”
How could I let go of something so nightmarish as a nice guy being framed for a murder he didn’t commit?

The thing is that evidence keeps mounting against Matt.

For one thing, Matt didn't even need tutoring---he lied about his parents and he lied to his parents---Matt wasn't going to fail his classes at all. So why did he have Lily tutor him?

“What if I told you, Miss Graves,” Zabriskie continued with a touch of glee, “that there wasn’t a chance that Matt Houser would have been benched this season?”
Goosebumps rose on my arms. “Why?”
“Because he finished the class with a B.”

And then there's the issue of Matt arguing with Erin on the night she died.

“The guy Mrs. Krezky saw arguing with Erin that night sounds exactly like Matt. Short brown hair, Potsdam Panthers jacket, and everything.”

And then it turns out that Erin was pregnant. Matt was her boyfriend. It's not rocket science to assume he's the father.

I tried not to think about Matt having sex with Erin.
“It’s a statistical fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic homicide when they’re pregnant,” Sara said.

Matt is a suspect, Lily is being told by everyone to stay away from him. Naturally, she can't.

“Matt is a boy with...”—she bit her lower lip—“bad intentions, I think. The more distance between you two, the better.”
But I would never distance myself from Matt. And Mom knew it.
You could tell by the fear in her eyes.

The Side Characters:

We’d dubbed them the Tragically Normals, because they were truly living the ultimate high school experience. Good grades? Check. Lettering in sports? Check. Nice cars, cute boyfriends, adorable girlfriends, clear skin, ideal physical proportions? Check, check, check, check, and check.

Clichéd, clichéd, clichéd, clichéd. We have here the Mean Girls and Boys. They're bright, shining on the outside. Outstanding students, young pillars of the community who are secretly assholes to everyone beneath them. They're petty, they're foolish, they do illegal things, they're hypocrites, they get away with it.

There's the stoner, who says stuff like “You know, when I was at that pit called Potsdam High, you were the only one I thought might be able to understand my interests, seeing as how you too were mocked and ridiculed for yearning to be among the dead.”

There's no depth at all to the side characters.

Deus ex fucking Machina:

TO: Robert R. Amidon, Chief of Police
FROM: Detective Joe Henderson
It appeared to be an internal police memo. It was so unlike Perfect Bob to release something this top secret, much less fax it to Mom.

To be fair, I'm not quite sure if this qualifies as deus ex machina, but the plot is helped along by so many convenient excuses, it's hard not to label it as such.

Lily's mother is dating the chief of police. Thanks to that convenient little fact, Lily constantly gets tips from the police that she's not supposed to know. She works at the family mortuary so she's got details on the body (Erin's) that she's not supposed to know or see.

It was odd to see Erin this plasticized and defenseless, her newly washed red hair in a halo around her vacant face, her mouth glued into a pleasant smile. On closer examination, I noticed her inner thighs were riddled with scars, as were her waist and breasts.

Total conflict of interest, but whatever, right?

To top it off, everyone gives Lily the information she wants.

“Talk to me.” This was my one window of opportunity and I had to make the most of it. “What happened at Erin’s house Saturday night?”
Allie sighed feebly. “It was a big mistake that’s going to haunt us for the rest of our lives.”

Mean girls? Check. One little interrogation and they're blurting out their heart's secrets to her. This is entirely unrealistic, given that the Mean Girls (or "Pathetically Normals") are Lily's sworn enemies.

The Suspects: Never entirely well-thought out at all. Random suspects are thrown out of thin air, others seem to be complete red herrings that aren't subtle and witty as much as they're tremendously annoying for the reader.


“This you, Lily Graves?”
“Yup. I’m in my Halloween costume today.” Dark-wash skinny jeans, bright-blue mock turtleneck, and a kicky black-and-white herringbone jacket—all from J.Crew.
“What are you supposed to be?”
“The scariest thing I can think of,” I said. “Normal.”

Lily Graves is one of those teenagers who wear all black in school and is fascinated with death. It doesn't really make her any interesting to me, because I was one of those morbid teenagers myself. My problem's not with the fact that she tries to be different, it's the fact that she has no personality and no purpose for looking and dressing the way she does. She is superficial, despite the fact that she criticizes others for being superficial. She's a normal teen who chooses to dress differently, that's all. I didn't feel that there was anything particularly special, interesting, or especially likeable about her.

The Romance: I really can't bring up any quotes about the romance, because despite the fact that this book is based on the rumor of a romance between Matt and Lily, there was none.

Matt is not a nice guy. We're led to think he's a nice guy, but he's not, because he cheats on his girlfriend of 3 years with Lily. It's a mental cheating, but he's trying to get to know her WHILE he has a girlfriend.

“I did it because...because I wanted to get to know you, and I was too stupid to think of any other way.”

HELLO, YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND. Matt kept on dating Erin until the very end. He didn't have the courtesy to break up with her, having acknowledged his attraction to Lily. It's not a decent thing to do.

Despite his cheating, there is an absolute lack of romance in this book. Lily and Matt do absolutely nothing but make sad puppy dog "I DIDN'T KILL HER" eyes at each other. If you're going to give us a tragic couple, make it worthwhile.

Overall: A halfhearted attempt at a mystery that just bored me to death.