Friday 13 May 2022

Book Review (Blog Tour) | Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard


Publication Date: 10th May 2022 by Christy Ottaviano Books
Format: Netgalley ARC
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Thriller


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In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.

The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?

This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.



My Thoughts

"People crave the spectacle of a young woman trying and failing. They like the crash more than the plane".
I've really been in the mood for YA thrillers lately and when I read the synopsis of Dead End Girls, I was immediately intrigued. Two girls faking their own deaths to escape their apathetic families but incidentally leaving a trail of crimes sounded so entertaining. Bonus points, it's also Sapphic.  
This is one of those books that has you hooked from the first few pages. I love it when books just throw you straight into the thick of the plot and doesn't waste time beating around the bush and when Maude says "We fly to Hawaii on Saturday, and a few days later I'll be dead. It will be a tragic accident. I seriously cannot wait ", I knew we were going to be in for a wild ride.     
Heard keeps up the pace throughout the novel and knows exactly when to slow things down and then ramp them back up. The little twists and moments of misfortune are perfectly placed to keep us turning the page. I really liked that we get a dual POV and a timeline switch in order to see how past events have lead to Frankie needing to escape, it's teased to us slowly and works really well mixed in with the current events. The writing style is clear and concise, and obviously Heard does a terrific job of keeping her action thrilling and her characters likeable. 
That's one thing that did surprise me; how much I just loved Maude and Frankie. They were just my favourite part of the book as I found both of them so fascinating to follow. Maude is a so incredibly intelligent and determined in her quest for a brand new life, what she's willing to do in order to achieve it is remarkable. She comes across as slightly sociopathic at times but surprisingly it didn't bother me cause she had her reasons, ok?! Frankie is just so loveable, all she wants is to feel accepted for who she is and it broke my heart at times when it came to light all that she was struggling with.
Their relationship progresses nicely over the course of the book. From step-cousins (which is a bit weird but we'll overlook it) to semi-girlfriends. It took me a while to feel the chemistry between them but in the end I was all heart eyes for them. 
My reservations with this book lie with the believability of it. I could absolutely overlook a few cracks in the plot due to overall how entertaining it was but the more I read the more my scepticism grew. When we reach around 70% in, a lot of what happens after just felt too convenient for the circumstances. And it wasn't just one thing, it was a few of them and everything leading up to the ending felt too easy for our two MC's even with all the roadblocks in their way especially when you consider that these are teenage girls.    
This was a fun, all or nothing thriller that has some lovely contemporary/romantic moments mixed in with all the action. It explores reinvention, sexuality, gender identity and shitty families getting what's coming to them in a compelling mystery suspense. The ending is very satisfying for all that I found faults with the build up and I'd definitely be up for picking up more by Wendy Heard. Pick it up if you love the craziness of Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale.

Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.

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I received an ARC copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes included in this review are subject to change. Massive thank you to Christy Ottaviano Books for providing me with a review copy. A huge thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for letting me take part in the blog tour as well. 

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