When Laura Rivers arrives at her new school in a small East Coast town, she’s not prepared for the fear-stricken looks from the other students. A little searching reveals the reason: Laura looks just like a girl who died last year. Though the death was reported as a suicide, a mysterious hacker keeps sending notes reminding Laura’s boyfriend of the fateful night. Notes that indicate Charlie and his friends keep a secret between them, one they tried to bury the night Sarah died. As the hacker closes in on revealing the truth, Laura struggles to determine who Charlie really is: the monster Sarah believed him to be, or a reformed boy trying to put the past behind him.
I had sort of a love-hate relationship with this novel. I really enjoyed several things about it. The plot was unpredictable. I felt like going in I knew where the story was going, and I was confused about how quickly some of the details unfolded. Long before reaching the halfway point, I felt like the course I expected the story to take had already been taken. From there, I had no idea what to expect, and I enjoyed that sense of freefalling as each new event occurred. I really liked the character Sasha. I felt like she was one of the only characters that I could really empathize with and really get behind. I wanted to like Charlie and Laura, but there were some really ugly moments that just kept me from really investing in them.
I felt like the story ended in a really weird place, too. I guess I kept waiting for this moment where justice would be served, and instead the story focused a lot on vengeance, which I didn’t find very satisfying. There’s a definite cliff-hanger at the end, so maybe book two will further explore the issues and deliver some well-earned justice.
Despite my issues, Dead Ringer may appeal to readers who like a dark mystery with a strong hand of vengeance and some unexpected twists.
Moderate profanity used infrequently.
Some description of kissing/making out. Reference to sex, but no description of the exchange. A girl briefly describes her first relationship with another girl (references kissing.)
There’s not a lot of discussion about God or the universe in the story, but one thing that stood out to me was the emphasis on vengeance rather than justice.
Brief description of a boy taking advantage of a girl. She reports that he raped her, but doesn’t describe the incident.
References to underage drinking.