Friday, July 24, 2015

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch
Release Date - July 21, 2015
Publisher Website - Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .
This has been called 'Gillian Flynn for the YA set'. It's a comparison that immediately lets you know what you're in for - a dark, twisted read that keeps you guessing. While Amanda Panitch certainly delivers a novel with unexpected twists she also offers up a engaging character study in Julia/Lucy and a deep look at the bonds that tie siblings together.

The choice of narrator is perfect for this type of novel. The subtle weaving and revealing of the plot through the narrators memories, and flashbacks worked incredibly well for this thriller like read. It's a strong choice, and that pays off in more ways than one by the end. There is a sense of foreboding that never quite abates as you turn the pages, however I think this may be a result of how the story feels entirely familiar. It's one we've read before. We've seen this done, even if Amanda puts who own twist on it. It's taught us to be on guard and that means less of spark when the match is lit. You'll be expecting it, but there is something thrilling about that to. It's the journey in this case, rather than the destination (even if the destination does have a few surprises in store).

The slower pacing of this novel works for the story being told. It allows the author to control the information and how quickly the reader gets it. You're fed just enough to get you hooked, and keep you baited. You're given enough to theorize even while the author is relishing the moment you'll have the rug pulled out from under you.

The sibling dynamic is centre stage in this plot. All of it revolves around their relationship, and the events leading up those crucial 22 minutes that changed everything. The truth behind what happened is much more complex than it seems at first glance. It's messy, dark, and exactly what is promised in the synopsis. Those 22 minutes and what happened during them is kept tantalizingly just out of reach until the exact moment it needs to be revealed, and is one of the more smartly woven together elements of the plot.

My only minor issue was that the ending feels much more vibrant, and explosive compared to the rest of the novel. While the story is paced out well, the last few chapters have a different feel than the rest of the novel. It's more gripping, and taunt. You can tell that these are the scenes Amanda Panitch was itching to write. You can see the characters burst through the writing in these pivotal moments in a way that is missing from the rest of the story.

A rollercoaster ride that picks up speed towards the end, and delivers one twist and turn after another. You may figure out the ending, but I promise the full impact of the twist will not be lost either way. A promising début from an author I hope to see much more from. 

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