Tuesday 12 July 2022

Book Review (Blog Tour) | We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

Publication Date: 12th July 2022 by Little, Brown
Format: Netgalley ARC
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Content warnings: Sexual abuse of minors (backstory mentions, one-paragraph flashback), stalking, self-harm (slapping), self-hating thoughts, anxiety, slut shaming, mentions of homophobia (no slurs). 

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Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s name and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fan fic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While their bond makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.

Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears. 


My Thoughts

"But you don't know small towns, Celeste. You don't understand what the sheer depth of boredom will drive people to."

I was drawn to We Made It All Up as soon as I saw that cover. Then I read that it was a YA thriller  about small town secrets and murder and knew I had to jump on the blog tour. This book explores Celeste as she moves from Canada to a quiet town in Montana and falls in with a girl who is descended from the town's founders. Their bond is threatened by their mutual fascination with the town golden boy, Joss, which leads to a night of drinking and Joss ending up dead. Celeste struggles to piece together her lost memories of that night and begins to wonder if she is actually the killer. 

I enjoyed this book a lot, probably a lot more then I maybe thought I would. YA thrillers can often teeter on the edge of being too unrealistic and overly dramatic but the author manages to perfectly balance that line of teenage drama and murder.    

The plot itself is probably my favourite aspect of the book. I loved this exploration of small town boredom, private traditions and teenage obsession. This book isn't afraid to go to some dark, uncomfortable places which sets it apart from a lot of similar books in YA. It sometimes felt like a plot in an adult thriller but is well adapted for a teen audience. It does contain scenes that allude to sexual abuse and self-harm so something to be aware of. 

I really liked the character of Celeste and her determination to discover her role in the death. Her friendship with Vivvy felt credible, these two outsiders who bonded over a mutual crush and spinning stories. I particularly enjoyed the scenes that conveyed how obsession can grow and mutate. I completely understood how these teenage girls were building up their own image of the popular kids in their heads. Wanting to be part of this circle but this being the only way to fit themselves in. 

This book also contains a sort of fan fiction element where Celeste and Vivvy are writing about their own version of Joss and other people they know. It did make a little uncomfortable at times cause for them they were real people, not fictional and it did feel weird especially with the relationship they were writing about. But again, it plays into how teenage girls are and how fixation can blur the lines of fantasy and reality. 

"Girls get hurt every day. Girls make up dark stories to deal with their hurt every day."

This was a really well written mystery that had me feeling extremely tense and claustrophobic at times. The alternating timelines helped to build up that tension and keep me guessing about who actually committed the crime. The story is well constructed, with an authentic voice and had me reading on long after I needed to go to bed! Definitely up there with the best YA mysteries of 2022. 

Margot Harrison has a life long habit of creeping herself out and now attempts to creep others out via her fiction. Her teenage dream was to see as many movies as possible and write about them, which she does as a Tomato meter critic for Vermont media company Seven DaysShe is also a Harvard grad, wrangler of calicos, speaker of French, native of New York City, and lover of horror podcasts and strong black tea.

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 Little, Brown 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. 

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