Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Bone Deep by Kim O'Brien

Title: Bone Deep
Author: Kim O'Brien
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Published Date: 19 May 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository

I received this book through NetGalley from Spencer Hill Press for review.

Spending the summer on an archeological dig sounds like fun, and it would be, if Paige Patterson didn t have to work for her dad--the man who walked out on their family. Luckily, her best friend Emily Linton is also interning for her dad. The summer takes on a romantic possibility when she meets Jalen Yazzi--the super attractive son of her father's project manager. But then Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth. What was Emily doing alone in the ruins the night she disappeared? Did she see something she shouldn t have? The search for Emily brings Paige and Jalen closer together, but it also unlocks long hidden crimes and dangerous mysteries. As Paige digs deeper into Emily s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything--even her life. (summary from Goodreads)

While Bone Deep has some fascinating elements, it never quite develops into a truly engrossing mystery.

I enjoy a good mystery, so I had high hopes for Bone Deep. The summary entices and in some ways it lives up to those expectations. The insight into an archeological dig is amazing. The history is intriguing and adds a slightly sinister atmosphere to the story. In much the same way, Jalen is a great character, caught between two worlds but trying to find a place rooted in both. He's a smart and spiritual character who's point of view chapters are moving. Emily is also an interesting character whom I would have liked to learn more of through chapters from her point of view. I especially liked her relationship with the MC, Paige. It's intense and there's a mysteriousness to their past friendship that drives readers to want to know more. 

Unfortunately, the mystery of Bone Deep does not develop as well as it could've. It's obvious from very early on what happened to Emily, and so the rest of the book is partly a waiting game to see when the characters will finally figure it out. I was disappointed by how much the mystery is actually overshadowed by Paige's self-involvement and the shallow romance between Paige and Jalen. Most of the novel is narrated through Paige's point of view and it's to the detriment of the story that all her focus is on herself - how she's suffered through her parent's divorce, how she feels unloved by her parents, how Jalen doesn't notice her, woe is Paige. Personally, I began to wonder if she cared about Emily at all. At first I felt for Paige, but her attitude is dragged out too long and by the end she simply annoys. I was not invested in Paige's relationship with Jalen either. It's very much a case of insta-love. We're meant to believe in it because Jalen's parents experienced the same sort of instant connection, but no.

O'Brien proves she can write some amazing and tension filled prose throughout Bone Deep. As stated, the archeological element is fab, plus an attempted rape scene is dark and terrifying, and the scenes where Paige confronts Emily's killer make your heart race. O'Brien has a knack for evoking some truly nerve-wracking and darkly atmospheric tones. It's just too bad her focus often draws away from these elements for a lackluster MC and romance. Also, there's some plot lines left unresolved at the end of Bone Deep. What happened to the Native Americans that once lived in the ruins the characters are investigating? But more importantly, what was Paige's father up to? So much tries to portray him as suspicious but when the truth is revealed there's no explanation offered for his actions. It's a little infuriating that this seems to have simply been forgotten. And how can Paige never confront her mother after how she's treated her father? 

Bone Deep had the potential to be an awesome read, as it has some truly intense characters and scenes, but unfortunately it's misses keep it solidly in the realm of just okay. 

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