Two weeks ago, I attended the Whitehot’s Children’s Book Display at the Mississauga Library. I was able to speak to publishing reps about upcoming new releases and get the scoop on the best reads. I asked the rep from Sterling Children’s Books for his top pick of YA titles and he immediately picked up Envy by Gregg Olsen. The book cover itself is a high selling point, but at the same time scared me because it reminded me of the scariest movie ever- The Ring. Yes, I am still terrified of that film, and really haven’t watched a horror movie since. Luckily, Envy isn’t so much a horror story as it is a suspenseful mystery.
Summary from Goodreads:
Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins’ old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out–and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.
Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge–and push you right over.
I must admit, the story kept my interest. But I’m not sure it’s because of Olsen’s story or the fact that I knew the book was based on the true case of Megan Meier. If you aren’t aware of the case, Megan was 13 years old when she committed suicide after being cyberbullied by an unlikely individual. The case was highly publicized and shed light on the dangers of social media.
Now for my critiques…
- This book had some of the worst cliffhanger lines ever. For example—When Katelyn is found dead in a bathtub with an expresso machine, Olsen writes: [someone in Port Gamble was] “loving the sad moment to the very drop”. I also found that Olsen loved writing short empathetic sentences. For example, he ends a chapter with “…beginning of something that would change everything. Everything. Every. Single. Thing (p.16)”. The majority of chapter endings were so terrible that I was surprised there wasn’t a dramatic ‘duh duh duh’ written after them.
- I think Olsen tried too hard to reference popular culture. From Twilight, to Smashbox makeup. Yes, it may be in ‘in’ thing now, but in a couple of years, these references will date the book.
- Umm…did I miss something? Why exactly was the espresso coffee machine even near the bathtub in the first place?
- SPOILER— I didn’t buy the ending. Once they found out Katelyn’s death was an accident, it was like ‘ohhhhh okay, no problem, it was an accident, end of story’. The storyline of Katelyn was pretty much dropped there. Then, the next chapter thrusts us back into Hay-Tay’s supernatural issues and the annoying reporter Moira. Yes, she was a little crazy stealing their dog and all, but did she really need to be murdered so that the twins could be ‘protected’? I really doubt being ploughed down by a car would look the same as falling down a rocky bank. To be ruled ‘accidental’ Port Gamble must have the worst policemen and coroners in the world.
-I liked the supernatural ‘special’ powers between the twins and wish that it was a bigger part of the storyline. However, the ending of Envy does suggest that their powers will be more played out in the series.
-I enjoyed reading a mystery and searching for the clues within the story to try to understand what really happened to Katelyn.
-I appreciated the fact that Olsen addressed the issue of online anonymity and the dangers of cyber bullying. Today kids are so tech savvy and cyber bullying is sadly becoming a more prevalent form of bullying.
Want more Envy?
Click to watch the Youtube book trailer
Or visit www.emptycoffinseries.com for more information on the book and cyberbulling. You can even take a ‘how mean are you?’ quiz!