Missing In Somerville by A.J. Raven – 3 stars
The beautiful young bride of the town’s wealthiest man has been missing for several months and rumors of her whereabouts are rampant. Some speak of murder at the hands of her husband. Others claim that the young beauty died at the hands of a jealous ex-boyfriend. She could have run away, but why would a woman throw away a life of luxury? Perhaps she killed her husband, took his money, and began a new life with a secret lover. When a group of friends begin to search for her, they quickly discover that their lives are in danger by those determined to keep the woman’s whereabouts unknown.
This is a story primarily about teenagers acting like teenagers, who happen to be solving a mystery as they do so. The main character, Jerry, is awkward and uncomfortable about nearly everything, while managing to pull out enough confidence to do incredibly stupid things and get away with them, for the most part. He’s believable and enjoyable, and his friends are an entertaining crew of wingmen(and women). Overall, I enjoyed the story and its twists and turns.
The dialogue is a bit stilted and formal – the kids don’t really feel like they’re talking like kids. Several words they use come off oddly, like ‘bespectacled’, and ‘cronies’, things I don’t really believe average teens would say in the context they’re used. Some of the attempts at teen humor don’t come off well, either. These things are fairly minor, but I noticed them.
Jerry’s uncertainty regarding his sexuality is refreshing and well handled, but it isn’t resolved. We’re left not knowing what he’s going to do or how he’s going to explore it, which is unsatisfying. A few hints here or there could have given enough of a hint about where he’s headed to tie that off.
There’s a lot of showing instead of telling in this book, and much repetition of information. The characters tell each other the same things too many times, and Jerry explains background information too much. Many of the small moments are irrelevant to any of the themes or plot lines, and only serve to throw useless information at us.
The best parts of this book are when Jerry is busy freaking out internally over one thing or another. His mental voice is excellent and engaging. Likewise, the mystery and the kids’ attempts to find information about it are clever and amusing. The end could have been a little tighter, but it stands just fine as is.
The book is fast-paced and an amusing read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for quick, summer beach reading.