Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hide and Seek by Jane Casey

I love Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series, so much that I had to read her Jess Tennant series as well. The Jess Tennant books are aimed squarely at the teen market, the third entry even more than the first. (I somehow missed the second.) There’s a lot of angsty teenager stuff about true love and parents who don’t understand.

Jess Tennant is a kind of modern Nancy Drew.  After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother from London to the small coastal town where her mother’s twin sister lives. In the first book, How to Fall, Jess investigated the mysterious death of her cousin Freya. In Hide and Seek, she is caught up in intrigue around a high school classmate who disappears the night she is supposed to meet Jess at the library to work on a project. Jess finds her classmate’s diary and reads it before the police. She also flirts with a love triangle although she professes to be in love with her boyfriend Will, now away at college most of the year. His father and her mother were in love as teenagers but married others they didn’t love, which ratchets up the angst factor.

Characterization is Casey’s real strength. I would give this book two stars for its predictable and overwrought plot (but five for the writing and characterization). I figured out what was up with the missing girl as soon as I read her diary. Jess’s boyfriend’s father Dan is the local police chief, and it’s ridiculous and unbelievable that he allows Jess to go with him as he investigates the missing girl. The climactic scene with Jess, Will, and Dan in danger is also eye-roll worthy.

But Jess is a compelling narrator, and Casey’s writing compelled me to keep reading despite the plot. The English teen scene feels authentic, as does life in a small coastal English town. The tidy and happy ending was satisfying and I enjoyed reading the book. I think the entire series would be a hit with teens who enjoy reading mysteries. Overall I give this entry four stars. I’ll hunt down the book I missed, Bet Your Life, and read the next book in the series if Casey writes one.

I read a digital galley of Hide and Seek. It is scheduled to be published in August 2015. The first book in the Jess Tennant series, How to Fall, is available at the Galesburg Public Library in the Young Adult section and as a digital book through eRead Illinois.

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