On the Docket: The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

Source: Won from Amy Reads

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Publisher’s Plot Blurb:

Abby Goodwin has always covered for her sister. Maya’s screw ups started out ordinary enough: Broken curfews. Failed classes. Hanging out with the wrong crowd. But now Maya’s been accused of murder. And Abby’s not sure she’ll be able to cover for her anymore. Abby’s certain of Maya’s innocence–but she’s the only one. With the police closing in, Abby helps Maya escape…and then starts investigating, hoping to clear her sister’s name. What she finds, though, shows how deadly her sister can truly be. From the author of The School for Dangerous Girls comes a page-turning thriller about the things we do for family–and the limits we can reach.

First Impressions:  After reading this book, I arrived at two conclusions. First, I was thrilled to realize that my instincts are still pretty damned sharp. I can still analyze behaviour, words, and innuendos with efficiency. Age has not hindered – actually, enhanced – my observation skills. Second, I simply do not understand, nor do I have any desire to understand, the 21st century teenage culture. At 28, the generation gap has officially turned into a canyon-sized hole of confusion. I simply don’t get it. At. All. The attitude of both Maya and Abby is out-of-this-world bratty; every character is spoiled rotten, has issues with self-entitlement, and milks his/her parents for all they’re worth. In The Deadly Sister, narcissism is a rampant disease.

Please be advised that this review is full of spoilers!!!

From page one, Abby’s behaviour did not make an ounce of sense. Her dialogue, her actions, the way she interacts with “friends” was off kilter from the moment she stumbled upon Jefferson’s body in the woods. The Deadly Sister is another case of an unreliable narrator. We only have Abby’s perspective, her words, her observations to guide us through the story. It doesn’t take long for the reader to realize that she’s leaving out important information.

I don’t care how intensely you love your family, no one with an ethical head on their shoulders will do what Abby did for Maya, unless there is an underlying reason, something more selfish. Never does the reader truly believe that Abby is helping her sister out of the goodness of her heart. Once she “befriends” Brian, and coldly insinuates herself into his life, that’s just another facet of her sociopathic tendencies.

Once the reader realizes that we have been keeping company with a killer for 310 pages, a variety of frustrations occur: why the hell did so many girls fall for Jefferson, who appeared to have “Douche-bag” written on his forehead from the get-go? And, if Abby is so smart, why did she allow herself to fall for him so pathetically? Okay, so perhaps it was a case of a sociopath attracting one of her own. Jefferson was cold and calculating, demonically charming, too. But, does no one in this town have the ability to see through his facade? Apparently, only one. Abby’s father doesn’t trust him, and rightfully so. But all the teenagers, and Jefferson’s parents, are completely in the dark. How is it that one boy (and I don’t care how hot he is!!) has the ability to be a straight-A student and be a five-star drug dealer, and keep everyone in town convinced? No one is that good of an actor. I suppose it’s the same reason no one could see Abby as the cold, unfeeling, selfish sister that she was so obviously throughout the novel.

Cheyenne is also glaringly different from many characters in this novel. She’s smart, but unnervingly emotional. She changes tracks – from angry to happy to sad – too quickly. She covers herself, and her secrets, well. But it becomes apparent why Cheyenne and Abby are such “best friends” to begin with. They are two peas from the very same pod.

Final Verdict: Either Schrefer has the inside scoop on teenage culture, or he’s extremely imaginative. Regardless, his writing is crisp and clean; his characters are strange but well drawn. I would be tempted to categorize this novel as social commentary. Perhaps The Deadly Sister, aside from its entertainment value, is a report on this new decade in which we find ourselves, one of decadence, technology and narcissistic social media. I was very impressed with the idiosyncrasies he gave his characters, which allowed them to develop into real, damaged, or (obviously) insane people. The ending, however, left much to be desired. It was wrapped up with a pretty little, unrealistic bow. I think Schrefer might have spent too much time unraveling the mystery and only had twenty-or-so pages left to write a conclusion. And, if you’re a stickler for justice, you will be sorely disappointed with Abby’s ending.