Past Meg: If you say ‘summer camp massacre’ in a book synopsis, I am going to read it. 100%, no further info necessary.
Current Meg: I should’ve gotten further info…
All jokes aside, this is a solid YA Contemporary story focusing on trauma recovery and featuring a Sapphic Romance. Unfortunately, I went into this expecting a Psychological Thriller with a Teen Slasher Twist.
In this story we follow Sloan and Cherry, girlfriends who are the sole survivors of a massacre at a summer camp. Both girls were counselors.
In the aftermath, Sloan, who remembers no tangible details, has been struggling to put the event behind her. She feels like the black spots in her memory are haunting her and she doesn’t feel like she can move on until she has answers.
Her girlfriend, Cherry, the only person Sloan feels understands what she’s been through, tries to be supportive. She also tries to make Sloan feel safe, but for her part, Cherry is ready to move on. They survived. They need to continue living instead of reliving the past.
As Sloan continues her search for answers, Cherry is right at her side, but after new evidence is revealed, Sloan begins to question just how well she knows Cherry.
The girls only met a few short days before the trauma that ultimately bound them together. Seeing things from a new perspective, Sloan fears that Cherry may have actually been involved in the massacre.
Will Sloan be able to figure out the truth before it’s too late, or will Cherry end up being the last girl standing?
This book has a lot of strengths. I did appreciate the story that Dugan created here and I think if you go into it with the right mindset, you could really, really enjoy it.
Sadly, for me, I saved this for Spooky Season, thinking it was more of a Psychological Thriller than an intimate examination of trauma recovery. That may be on me, but a little bit could be blamed on the marketing, IMO.
I did like Dugan’s writing. Also, the relationship between Sloan and Cherry felt very real, especially their bond based on their shared trauma. Even though it started quite slow, I was interested in learning more about the characters.
The slow pace continues for the most part, although it does pick up a bit in the later half. The narrative also focuses much more heavily on emotion than action, so be aware of that. Although, for the most part, well executed, it was not what I was expecting, nor in the mood for and I believe my experience was impacted because of that.
I think for Readers who enjoy YA Contemporary stories that focus on trauma and mental health, this could work well. I think a lot of Readers will be intrigued about the mystery surrounding Sloan’s missing memories and the truth of what happened at the camp that day.
I will say that the ending was fantastic. The final chapter was my favorite chapter by far. I wish it could have had that level of dark intensity throughout.
Thank you to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me with a copy to read and review. While this wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, I know a lot of Readers out there will enjoy this one!