November 5, 2019
Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Harper Jacobs and her bored friends make a pact to engage in a series of not-quite illegal break-ins. They steal from each other’s homes, sharing their keys and alarm codes. But they don’t take anything that can’t be replaced by some retail therapy, so it’s okay. It’s thrilling. It’s bad. And for Harper, it’s payback for something she can’t put into words―something to help her deal with her alcoholic mother, her delusional father, and to forget the lies she told that got her druggie brother arrested. It’s not like Daniel wasn’t rehab bound anyway.
So everything is okay―until the bold but aggravating Alex, looking to up the ante, suggests they break into the home of a classmate. It’s crossing a line, but Harper no longer cares. She’s proud of it. Until one of the group turns up dead, and Harper comes face-to-face with the moral dilemma that will make or break her―and, if she makes the wrong choice, will get her killed.
The Last to Die by Kelly Garrett is a very quick, very readable YA mystery about a group of rich, bored high school students who decide after successfully breaking-in and stealing from each others’ families that they would take it a step further and break into a classmates house. The act leads to unintended consequences. Like all mysteries, The Last to Die revolves around who is perpetrating the act and why. The main character, Harper, is certain she knows the answer as to the who but not the why.
The main characters of Harper, Alex, and Sarah are not very likable and not very relatable. Harper has moments though, especially regarding her fierce love for her younger, deaf sister, Maggie. While Harper loves her boyfriend, Gin, she would fight to the death for her sister. I found that a nice touch. Some of Harper’s snarky humor is funny and some completely misses the mark, and I wondered why she had been written in this way. In fact, most of the characters are not multi-faceted.
However, the place where The Last to Die just didn’t hold up for me was the ending. At a certain point I realized that the author might not be going obvious, but if not obvious, then what was the motivation? For one instance, no motivation was ever given, which was unfortunate. We mystery readers tend to want to know these things because they are the essence of the mystery. And, a very usable plot twist was over-looked, although I expected it to be one of the highlights of the ending.
Despite that letdown, the novel definitely held my attention and made me read far longer last night than I should have, just to emphasize that it was a page-turner.
While this novel falls into the category of YA, ages 14-18, I would definitely consider it only for the upper range of that group as it includes murder and drug (not detailed) and alcohol use.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 butterflies