Welcome to Gardnerville.
Welcome to Gardnerville.
A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.
Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.
I loved this: “I’d rather be forgotten than remembered the wrong way.”
Originally, I gave it 3.5 stars, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it deserved more, 4 stars. It took me a little bit to get into this story but once I did, I found myself liking it. The story was peculiar (creepy at times) and captivating all the way through. Overall, I give it 4 stars. I usually hate first person narrative style and flash backs, but I love how the author put this together. Like I said: captivating. The story bounces back and forth between the past and present, with the chapters dealing with the past given 80’s song titles (which I loved). It is completely original, unlike anything I have ever read or heard about (maybe I live under a rock, but I don’t think so?).
The story unravels through glimpses into the past, in which you learn about the less pleasant pieces of history of the town. Although it is confusing at times and nothing makes sense in the beginning, through these little snippets, you start to understand the background of the town and its citizens.
It all begins in a fourth year, with our protagonist, Skylar (aka Sky), watching her sister, Piper, lead half of her high school (the kids are all sort of hypnotized) across the railroad trestle bridge. Sky tries to wake the followers, but is unsuccessful. When Piper hears the train coming, she begins to wake all of the kids by touching them to get them to jump off of the trestle. From Sky’s perspective, it seems as though they think that they can fly, but wake from their reverie at the last moment to realize that they are about to land in the salt spring, painfully. Piper starts to run from the train, grinning. She will outrun it or die trying.
Sky starts taking these little purple pills (made from forget-me-nots) that allow her to fall into a kind of fog and forget her current situation. Piper is in the reformatory (where all the fourth years that have snapped go) and Sky just doesn't know what to do, basically. So she falls into drug use and selling her body, so to speak, to a boy that works at the reformatory to get information on Piper. Eventually, she starts to put the pieces together by quitting the pills and listening to the tapes that she and Piper made and you start to see the big picture at the same time she does. I really liked that. I found myself rooting for her, hoping that she would defeat her demons.
Character’s worth mentioning:
Elton, who uses Sky’s skill of reading people’s secrets to try to find out when there might be another incident. Elton wants to try to stop all the fourth year madness before it even begins and "cure" the town. In exchange for Sky’s cooperation, Elton gives her the purple pills.
Foote, who is a sort of henchman (though that sounds far too sinister) for Elton, but he is a good guy. You don’t really know anything about him in the beginning, but he’s not the typical “I’m mysterious, so I’ll be a jerk” guy. The more I found out about him, the more I liked him. He and Sky end up falling for each other slowly, with Sky taking a little longer to realize her feelings are genuine. It wasn't just a sappy love story inserted into a bigger story. It didn't detract from the story at all, so I liked it. You do, however, get the feeling from their first interaction that they are connected more than they originally think. You would be correct, by the way.
When you come to the end, it’s not a plot twist. It’s the solving of a mystery, and it’s wonderfully done. You couldn't ask for a better ending.
So, I know this is a bad review, but I honestly can’t figure out how to write how I feel about this book, so here are some adjectives to compensate: captivating, confusing, unique, and creepy.
Sexual Content: Mild to Moderate (I can't remember any specific scenes, but I do remember insinuation.)
Violence: Moderate to Heavy