Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton
Release Date: February 28, 2017
*ARC provided for an honest review via Netgalley from Diversion Publishing – thanks so much for sending me a copy!*
Gardenia was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. It sounded like the coolest concept that I’ve seen in a while in YA mysteries, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I may have even done a little happy dance when I saw I was approved on Netgalley. While the concept was as cool as I thought it was going to be, there were some major issues I had with it, which saddened this Book Princess.
Once upon a time…
Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.
Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.
A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.
Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.
The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.
Before we talk about anything else, let’s just fangirl a bit over this concept. A main character seeing expiration numbers over a person’s head is really nothing new. I’ve seen a few scifi movies with this concept, but this was the first time that I saw it in a YA book, and I was pumped. And rightly so, because Sutton created a super cool murder mystery plot with it and I was hooked, trying to figure out who the killer was. Sutton had me guessing pretty much until the big reveal, and Ivy seeing the numbers made it full of tension and confusion. Sutton created an absolutely amazing plot for this story and I loved it.
However, there were a few issues along the way. At some points, I thought the plot was dragged out too long. There were points that Ivy needed to get to, but it just took wayyyyy too long to get there. There was a number counting down, but I felt the author rushed some parts earlier into that countdown and not enough at the end. That led me to just swipe through the pages to get to that countdown just so I could hit that climax of the plot and the grand finale of the countdown. I think if it was a bit more spaced out, it would have kept and held my attention better.
It was also interesting how Ivy approached her time power. I kept thinking, why isn’t she using it more? Why isn’t she out telling people? Using it to truly solve the mystery? But then it came to me: who would believe it? Would I believe Ivy if she told me that? I kind of loved how Sutton actually made it so realistic. Ivy had this power, but she was stuck in a society that wouldn’t and couldn’t let her use it. It was interesting to think about that and it definitely added to the story for me although I did wish Ivy used it a bit more.
The romance in the story was…okay, Myles and Ivy were a mess. I totally shipped them, but these two…oh goodness, I’m not sure what to do with them. I really don’t understand how Myles stuck around, and it felt a bit unrealistic to me. However, again, I did ship these messy two, so I’m not sure what to do with that either.
Ivy, herself, was an interesting narrator. I didn’t love her completely, but she was good enough. I suppose I never really connected with her, but as I said, I liked her enough to root for a good ending for her.
Overall, this book didn’t live up to my high expectations for it, but I did enjoy it overall. I thought it was interesting and a super cool addition to YA mysteries. Sutton did a great job flushing out her concept, but there were a few issues in the execution of other things. It was definitely an interesting read, but I’m not sure how much I would recommend. 3 crowns for this book, and a Belle rating!
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What do you think? Have any of your most anticipated reads of 2017 fallen flat for you? Can you love a concept of a book and not love the execution and what boys have done this to you? Let’s discuss in the comments below!