Twisty as Hell

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Ten years ago, Lucas and his dad walked into the Boundary Waters and never returned. So, when Lucas is the culprit of an attempted robbery ten years later, the whole town has lots of questions. The one problem? He’s not talking--except to Maya, a brand-spankin’-new speech therapist at the local psychiatric hospital she knows quite well. Lucas is desperate to get back to his father, and Maya wants to solve the mystery of her newest patient. But their relentless curiosity--and obvious chemistry--may land them into more trouble than they realize, particularly as both of their heartbreaking stories seem to be slowly intertwining…

Trigger warnings for: suicide, depression/PTSD, and sexual assault

This book is a rollercoaster of surprising twists and turns. I was riveted from the first page, left guessing until the very end. Equal parts tragic and heartwarming, this has the potential to be one of the greatest mysteries of the year.

The plot of this book packs a killer punch. I frequently don’t care for mysteries because I can predict the endings too easily. With this book, that was not the case. And, upon completing the book, I was impressed by the tiny “puzzle pieces” I could see throughout the story--ones I may not have noticed on the first read-through. While most of the book is told in first person and in the present, the third-person flashbacks fit in very smoothly and provided just the right amount of information at the right times. The big twists are definitely extreme, and yet the story still feels probable. I was so enraptured, I wanted to finish it in one sitting!

The characters in this book are enigmatic and mysterious, and yet still relatable. I enjoyed Maya and all of her sass. She is a great narrator--not quite unreliable, but certainly not forthcoming with all the facts you need. There are also a few decent attempts at representation here, including race, mental health, and sexuality. Of course, opportunities to be more diverse always exist, but there was an attempt made here to represent different groups.

The one character I took issue with was Lucas, who in many ways felt inauthentic to me. He was nine years old when he and his dad went into the woods. Now, he’s nineteen and supposedly experiencing the “real world” for the first time. For someone who was raised in the wilderness with only his father for companionship, he’s super well-adjusted and has a huge vocabulary. In fact, there were a couple times where he sounded like a college professor, or another very educated individual. Not a lot of detail is given about what Lucas’ life was like in the woods, but his forest home gives no allusion to literature or schooling of any kind. Also, during a scene in which he and Maya are hiking through those woods, his knowledge of how to travel and survive is not that much above hers. So, while I liked the personality of our male lead, I found him very unconvincing for the role he was supposed to play.

Despite my dislike of Lucas’ character, I had a huge appreciation for Mejia’s writing. You can tell how well-researched this novel is. I learned a lot from what I read. I also felt Mejia’s knowledge added an extra layer of authenticity to the overall work. At times this wealth of knowledge made the prose heady and disjointed, but I still valued the thought that went into the details.

Overall, this was an excellent mystery with a focus on family and parents. It’s twisty as hell, with a plot that gripped me on every page. It’s chilling in its unapologetic approach to sensitive topics, and it stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. I’d highly recommend this book to mystery lovers everywhere, with a word of caution toward the trigger warnings I listed above. If you like psychological thrillers with dark and mysterious settings, you’re going to like this book.