I'm a sucker for good writing, and in my opinion, the writing in this book is excellent. Varied and vivid verb choices, great word-painting, and a unique narrative voice appropriate for the fourteen-year-old narrator. I am floored.
Action-junkies may not love this book as much as I did because it was definitely a slow burn. At its heart, it was a murder mystery, and plenty of groundwork was laid. I actually enjoyed all the groundwork because the narrative voice always kept it fun and light. Even without constant action, all the story-building seemed completely necessary and never felt like too much to me.
Another thing I loved about this book is that the young adult characters were intelligent and (mostly) rational. I feel that too many YA books are built on characters that are irrational--as if being a teen means you can't have common sense. That wasn't the case here. The kids were smart--really smart. While their choices were reckless, they were mostly logical. The one exception happened toward the end, when they mishandled evidence in a way that was uncharacteristic given their history of logical choices up to that point.
I was hoping to give this book five stars. Sadly, toward the end, there were some twists that didn't have enough groundwork. And too many revelations came in traditional and cliche bad-guy-tells-all-before-killing-good-guy moments that led to some eye-rolling on my part.
(Also, it should be noted that this book is borderline middle-grade.)