Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Masked Truth

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense, Canadian
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 340
Publisher: DoubleDay Canada
First Published: October 13, 2015
First Line: "If there's anything more tragic than spending your Saturday night babysitting, it's spending your Saturday night babysitting after canceling a date with a guy you've been dreaming about all year."

Book Description from GoodReadsRiley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

My Review: The Masked Truth is an interesting action-filled read suspenseful murder mystery for teens that also focuses on various mental health issues.  I've been a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong's 'Women of the Underworld' series but some of her other series (her Nadia Stafford series) haven't resonated with me as much.  This book falls somewhere in the middle of those two poles.

This book starts out strong and I was invested from the beginning of the book because I wanted to learn about Riley's past and the reasons she suffers from PTSD.  Riley herself was an interesting main character and fairly strong in her own right.  She's been through a lot, isn't the cookie cutter heroine (I loved that she was Hispanic) and she has suffered several losses.

The plot then switches to the weekend teen group therapy session that Riley attends and this is where my interest started to waiver a bit.  This is partially due to the fact that I couldn't imagine sending my teen to a 'retreat' that is set in a huge building with no windows.  My maternal warning bells started dinging loudly.  It just seemed odd.  The action ramps up big time as the truth starts to come out with lots of chasing and hiding and a rather large body count.  There are a few suspenseful situation but after awhile I started to question how these kids kept getting away from these gun toting professional bad guys in a building that's in lock down.  But I was willing to suspend reality a bit to keep the literary ball rolling.

The basis of this book, and what I will take away with me, is Armstrong's compassion and obvious research into the heart of various mental health issues.  From depression, suicidal thoughts, to anxiety and even schizophrenia Armstrong brings some heavy issues to the forefront with sympathy, authenticity and compassion. She shows some of the issues and social biases towards mental illness as well as giving her readers an insider's view on the daily struggles for those who suffer from these diseases.

There was a diverse set of characters but the person who really stood out for me was Max.  I liked his personality and being given the chance to get a look into his mind set as he struggles to deal with his own mental illness helped solidify him as the most memorable character in the book.  Max also takes up the reigns of the narration once in awhile but his voice was quite different from Riley's and I enjoyed the fact that I could easily tell these two apart just from their tone and vocabulary.

There is a romance, and while it was expected, I found it to be sweet and I liked how it wasn't formed just on physical attraction but slowly formed based on friendship and getting to know each other under such severe situations.

While I didn't totally connect with the hostage story line I quite enjoyed the mystery aspect and its twists that came towards the end of the book.  There was quite a big twist that I will admit I didn't see it coming.  I think that if less time was spent in the hostage situation and more in the mystery scenes I would have given this book a higher rating.

Overall, this was an enjoyable mystery with a healthy dose of suspense, lots of action-packed chase scenes all woven around a slightly unbelievable premise but with a cast of interesting characters that helped to make it a good, solid read.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to DoubleDay Canada for providing me with a complimentary hardcover copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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