Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: Hot Key Books
UK Release Date: 9th June 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source: Charity shop
Wish you weren’t here…
When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident . . . wasn’t just an accident.
With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?
I was interested to read this book for a long while, as it had me absolutely intrigued just from the title and the ominous tagline. I really enjoy reading YA thrillers, such as Sue Wallman’s books, and so I was hoping to love this one too. When I first finished it, I was very impressed, and then when I thought about it some more I did admittedly detract a star from my writing, but it was still refreshing to read a thriller for a bit of a change from my normal choices.
The main thing that I liked about this book was definitely how mysterious and intriguing it was. The story unfolds slowly, feeding you little bits of information as you go along, and this kept me hooked on the book throughout. When the opening chapter begins, the reader gets to feel Jill’s confusion as well – she is very disorientated, and the last thing she can remember turns out to be from six weeks ago – and so because it is a first person narrative, you can only really find out what she knows as it goes along. The only exception to this is the inclusion of police statements and interview transcripts that crop up throughout the book in the text, and this merely intrigued me further, as I was left to wonder if Jill was an unreliable narrator and whether or not I could trust her. Everyone had a different opinion of what could have happened, and it certainly made me suspicious of pretty much every character!
Something I liked about the ending of the book was the fact that you do get a clear resolution. Nothing annoys me more than an unsolved mystery at the end of a book, as for me, it means that the story lacks closure. With Malice does not disappoint in this respect; you do get to find out exactly what happened. This was nice as well as it tied together all the pieces of evidence which were a tad alarming, and meant that all the events seemed to make sense. However, I do think that some of it was a bit of a stretch – I was surprised at the turn of events, and thought it was a tad hard to believe what some of the characters did, given the personalities that had been built up for them across the course of the book.
The characters were interesting, and generally kept me wanting to read more, even if they ended up being inconsistent in the end. Jill obviously had a lot on her plate, as she had to try to physically heal, and go through all the stress associated with that, while simultaneously trying to defend herself against the police, lawyers, and media. I think I liked her more towards the beginning, and I felt really bad for her as well, but as the story progressed I started to like her less, especially at the very end. I feel like the last couple of chapters showed a different side to some of the characters’ personalities that were just too much of a different side to be convincing. So, while the ending was satisfying in that it tied off loose ends, it didn’t completely fit with what the characters were like in the rest of the book, in my opinion.
Overall, I’m glad I read With Malice, as it was an intriguing book, and there was a lot of intensity to it, particularly in the way the reader saw the case emerging, with new mysterious pieces of evidence. However, I thought the ending and the shifts in the characters just weren’t quite believable enough to satisfy me completely, even if it did round off the loose ends.