A Line in the Dark

A Line in the Dark

Book - 2017
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Jessica Wong is the kind of girl nobody notices. She's also the kind of girl who sees everything. There's no one better at overlooking Jess than her best friend, Angie. Jess can live without Angie knowing her real feelings, just so long as they're best friends. But when Angie meets Margot, Jess recognizes that things will never be the same. Worse still, Margot is one of the rare people who sees exactly how Jess feels about Angie. As Angie falls hard for Margot and gets caught up with Margot's wealthy friends, Jess's life begins to fall apart. If she isn't Angie's best friend, what is she?
Then, at a party, surrounded by Margot's friends, Jess finally breaks down and starts revealing a few of the secrets she knows. Not everyone in the party can handle what Jess reveals, and before the sun rises, someone's dead.
Dark, disturbing, and full of twists, A Line in the Dark is a cleverly crafted YA mystery that will delight readers craving a queer teenage girl antihero just as morally complicated as her male counterparts.
Publisher: New York : Dutton Books, 2017
ISBN: 9780735227422
Branch Call Number: YA LO
Characteristics: 281 p. ;,22 cm


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Aug 24, 2018

This book was engrossing. Just when you think you have things figured out, things get turned around and you are left wondering just how you missed the clues.

Jess has a deep interest in her BFF, Angie, however Angie only has eyes for Margot. Things start off innocently enough, with just a glimpse into Jess and Angie's little world....until Margot and her rich and snobby friends come crashing into their world. Jess and Angie are introduced into a world different from their own, where things become murky and mysterious when Margot's friend Ryan is suddenly found missing after attending Margot's holiday party where very heated discussions were made between Jess and Ryan.

I grew to kind of like and sympathize with Jess. She is an interesting character, especially when the teenage years are so hard to navigate, never mind trying to juggle her growing interest in her BFF. Plus I rather enjoyed reading about her comics and how they progressed and tied into the storyline as we go further and further into the story.

The first half of the book had be glued for sure, as did what really happened that night. Parts of the second book was a little clunky and different from the first half, which could probably use a little more revision and work. Interesting read for sure

Oct 14, 2017

Diversity: 3 - Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Jess and her family are Chinese, as is Jess's new friend Emily)
QUILTBAG: 5 (Jess, Angie, and Margot are all queer and none of them die)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 3 (Whoo, queer girls everywhere!)

Fun fact: I have a copy of Ash signed and personalized by Malinda Lo, but it's signed to someone named Whitney. I found it in a used bookstore and it is my precious. Anyway, a mysterious book starring queer girls and someone ending up dead? I'm always here for mysteries! Add queer girls everywhere and I'm on the hook just waiting to be pulled out of the lake.

And no, none of the queer girls end up dead. THE REPRESENTATION BAR HAS BEEN SET SO LOW THAT THIS ACTUALLY EXCITES ME. Gotta love the state of media, y'all.

A Line in the Dark is a novel sliced neatly down the middle to tell two stories: the events leading up to a Christmas party and the after of that party. Before, Jessica Wong and Angie Redmond are queer best friends living in West Bedford. Jess is in love with Angie, but after Angie meets and starts dating East Bedford boarding school attendee Margot Adams, their friendship becomes strained.

This first part of the book moves slowly but sets the mood with Jess's rather creepy occupation with Angie and Margot's classmate Emily telling Jess that Margot and her best friend Ryan are much more cruel than they seem to be. As Jess finds out by being in the right place at the right time, vicious, straightforward Ryan is also in a secret relationship with a teacher.

Then comes the Christmas party that changes everything. It initially seems innocuous, especially since the prologue is a scene from that party taken out of context and made to seem much more serious than it actually is, but nothing is the same after it. Ryan has disappeared, Angie and Jess are acting as if nothing happened despite how strained their friendship became, and police are taking to the three remaining girls regularly. The comic Jess has been working on for years suddenly takes a much darker turn that's too metaphorical not to have some grounding in her life.

While the first half is solely told in Jess's first-person POV, the second half mixes together transcripts of police interviews with the girls and third-person POV prose. The second half is where the tight writing and plotting really hit their stride, making sure readers will be keeping themselves up into the night so they can find out what happened. I can say that with certainty seeing as I did do just that. I was up until 1 AM finishing off A Line in the Dark!

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are no dead queer girls in the book. That's great on its own for anyone tired of our gays being fridged one way or another, but there's no homophobia either! If you want to escape our bigotry-ridden world for a while and enjoy a nice mystery, A Line in the Dark will let you do just that.

My one hang-up is that the ending requires I believe much more in the involved characters' relationships than I do. It's hard to explain without giving away the (admittedly anticlimactic) ending, but it left me feeling underwhelmed.

Of course, we never do find out if Margot and Ryan were the girls Emily claimed they were. If she was telling the truth, that makes what happened a little more believable.

A Line in the Dark is the queer girl mystery/thriller you've been waiting for. Though I'll be sad to let my ARC go, I've already got a few people in mind to pass it on to. I'd rather give it to readers whose marginalizations are in these pages than hoard it all to myself like a little dragon! (Besides, the hardcover will look so very nice on my shelf.)

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