Posted July 12, 2012 by Tara in Challenges /// 9 Comments

Not a bath I’d like to take.

by Gregg Olsen
Review copy from publisher
[#49 in my 75 book challenge]

When fifteen-year-old Katelyn Berkley dies in her bathtub as a result of electrocution by espresso machine, the “accidental” death looks more like a suicide to those closest to Katelyn. Her home situation isn’t so great, her friendship with Starla is falling apart, and she didn’t make the cheerleading team – again. However, twins Hayley and Taylor believe there is more to the story. They seek to determine what was really happening in Katelyn’s life that caused her to be so miserable in the past few months. Using their special gifts (yes, paranormal powers of sorts) and some sneaky detective work, the twins want to know Katelyn’s truth, while uncovering secrets about their own past along the way.

When I got this book, I didn’t even really know what I was getting into. I knew it had elements of true crime, and was based on a real-life case of cyberbullying, but that’s it.  Oh man. The elements of mystery and the paranormal, combined with Gregg Olsen’s ability to tell a great story, culminated in me finishing the book in just a day. Not every book makes it to the “just a day” list, so that’s saying something. The characters are complex, the pacing is just right, and the creepy level was just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat without being over-the-top.

The real shocker is that I normally avoid anything with a paranormal element. I normally find this genre a bit to unrealistic for my taste (just a few days ago I talked about this in my Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves post!). But Hayley and Taylor were so nice, and the secrets surrounding their town were so mysterious, that I had to keep reading. While the main mystery at hand is Katelyn’s death, the story really centers around Hayley and Taylor. Katelyn’s story is resolved, but theirs is not. The second book in the series, Betrayed, comes out this fall, and I will read it to see if it holds some answers.

FINAL GRADE:  A   I was really surprised by how good this book is. There were so many (but not too many) things going on at once that I was always on my toes. I like books that surprise me and aren’t filled with clichés. I would definitely recommend the book to my students AND I would buy it for my middle school library. The Twilight fans would like it, but also the folks who hate Twilight. In fact, this is the perfect book for anyone who is weary of the paranormal genre. I told myself I’d read at least one paranormal story this year, and this was a good choice. Gregg Olsen can tell a story, and I think the real magic was in his writing…I might be looking into some of his true crime books for adults.

How do you feel about paranormal books? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? (I know we just talked about this the other day…but feel free to weigh in again!)


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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9 responses to “Envy

  1. That cover is totally creepy! Reminds me of The Ring! But I do love a good scary, spooky, paranormal/ghost-type story, so sign me up for this one!

  2. I LOVE paranormal books when they facilitate uncovering hidden motives and secrets of the human psyche. I cannot stand paranormal books when all they do is attempt to scarify!

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