Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tea Time: Six Months Later

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound** Months Later, Natalie D. Richards

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows...

Cover- The cover is honestly what caught my eye. I originally became aware of this book through a post on Mindy McGinnis's blog, and almost passed over it but the cover was so simple and, in my opinion, interesting enough to garner a look at the pitch, which ultimately sold me (have I ever mentioned that I love stories that mess with the memory?).

Narrative- This book is told from the first-person POV of the main character, Chloe, and I have to say that what I appreciate most was how simple it was. No fancy speech, just a narration that sounded like I was having a conversation with someone. It was easy to follow, which means it was super easy to get lost in and just keep turning the pages.

Don't mistake simple for the kind of simple that's too simple, though. I don't mean "simple" like short sentences and small words (which I actually have come across before). I mean that Richards didn't try to go for language that was too flowery or overstepped; everything was natural, which means it was incredibly easy to follow the story.

Plot- Where do I begin?

Truth be told, this is one of the best mysteries in YA that I've read in awhile (need I remind you how disappointed I was after reading The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die?). I admit, too, that originally I thought  this was going to be more gen-fic than anything else, but by the time I hit chapter two (*cough*when Chloe wakes up six months later) I kind of started realizing there was something more sinister going on because there was a lot of tension in the air between Chloe and two other characters who showed up right away: Adam and Blake.

And let me tell you: tension is an understatement.

In a nutshell: whoa. Like, the only thing worse than what happened to Chloe is that Richards did a pretty fabulous job in making sure you don't get any answers. At all. Until it's almost too late. And, honestly, I'm disappointed with myself because I feel like some of it should have been way more obvious to me in the beginning. But it wasn't.

I was totally duped.

Okay, a bigger nutshell to help ya'll get a feel for it: smart protagonist, amnesia, lemon tea, SAT study group, drugs, human experimentation, murder, and a major corporation about to go under. Spells a rather delicious recipe for disaster, right? And all of it's wrapped up in the eyes of a main character I actually like (as in: I totally want to be friends with her, but that's for the next section of the review).

Seriously, though: mystery and suspense so thick that I kept thinking, "Okay, something bad should happen right about..." *flips page* "Okay, maybe next chapter." I really enjoyed figuring out this puzzle.

Okay, but there is one thing that kind of got me. My fiction professor has a saying, and it's one of the sayings that I actually agree with: "If you introduce a gun on the first page, it needs to go off by the last page." In the case of SIX MONTHS LATER, there's no gun, but shots certainly do get fired by the end of the book. The effect of this is somewhat jarring; the perpetrator/enemy just kind of shows up at the end. Overall it kind of works, but I'm the kind of person who enjoys when the enemy shows up early on, if only so they're familiar when they show up and I can go either "I KNEW IT!" or "Wait, WHAT?"

Characters-Okay, so I mentioned, already, that I wanted to be Chloe's friend, so I'll start with her.

Chloe is real. And I mean that as in: when she wakes up and it's suddenly November and she can't remember the last six months of her life, she tries to reason it out and be logical: Okay, this is weird. Maybe I just need to get some sleep. I mean, the thing is: she wakes up and her life is good (well, objectively speaking). Good grades, people like her, every college in the country wants her, and she's dating the guy she's crushed on for ages. The biggest thing that weirds her out and acts as the first knife in the back: her best friend hates her. Whoa, back up, now something really isn't right.

From there, she goes to figuring out who she can trust, and she gets rightfully peeved when every time she asks someone what's happened, they don't tell her. So she starts her research, and starts acting weird, and admittedly if I wasn't inside her head I'd think she's acting totally paranoid, too.

Something about her character was so totally normal that I just clicked with her, and I definitely agreed with her that the "old" version of her was way better than the "new."

Okay, now on to Blake and Adam, because they're both totally in on the action, too. On the outside, Blake is the sweet, perfect, attentive boyfriend (except for the part when he orders for Chloe at a restaurant; I wanted to punch him for that). Meanwhile, Adam's the dark dude with a troubled past, despite his awesome grades. Then again, Blake turns out to be the creepy guy (like, every time he came around I got shivers while reading, and it wasn't the cold), and Adam's the one you feel safe with.

Yet, every single time they popped up, I really could not figure out if I could trust them

I loved the characters in this book, both for their depth and how real they felt, but also because I really feel like I should thank Richards for something: they're not stereotypical high school students. I mean, yeah, there's the overachievers and an obvious divide of the "good" kids versus those from the wrong side of the tracks. But there's no stereotypical cliques: stupid jocks who are bullying the nerds, nasty cheerleaders, and everyone who gets good grades has frizzy or greasy hair, glasses, and probably braces.

Richards gave high school and teenagers the kind of respect they deserve. And her characters paid off so freaking well.

Yes, I really liked this book. It doesn't replace anything at the very top of my all-time favorite's list, but it's honestly the best YA mystery that I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I highly recommend it, and I'm definitely going to look forward to Richards' next book, coming out January 2015.

Final Answer: 4.25 / 5

Tweet It:

Mystery in a small town: lemon tea and a monster conspiracy. SIX MONTHS LATER @NatDRichards (Click to Tweet)

Craving an uncanny mystery starring an amnesiac? SIX MONTHS LATER @NatDRichards got 4.25 / 5 stars from @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

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