Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tea Time: Gone Too Far

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
Gone Too Far, Natalie D. Richards

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.

Piper Woods can't wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She's sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone's sure it's suicide, but Piper remembers Stella's name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.

Drowning in secrets she doesn't want to keep, Piper's fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished...

Narrative-This book is told from the first-person POV of Piper Woods, a high-school senior, school photographer, and general elitist who's slightly bitter about the social hierarchy of teen hood. What I found so great about her voice was her relatability (supposedly that's not a word, but for the purposes of this post, I'm making it a word); personally, I connected with her based on her attitudes about high-school, alone (and, yes, I know I'm way out of high-school, but I still get occasionally bitter).

What I'm going to address here (as opposed to addressing it in the "Character" section below) is Piper's character: Piper isn't actually a good person. She initially engages  with the anonymous texter to bring down the social lives of those she feels deserves to fall from their pedestals; what shows so perfectly, here, is her reasoning. As the reader, you know this isn't a good idea, that it's just downright bad (don't stoop to their level, Piper!), yet she's able to explain it to herself and make it a logical decision. Eventually, when she wants to get out, there is a part of you that doesn't feel sorry for her; at the same time, you don't want her to get punished. That kind of sympathy partially relies on a strong voice, and I think it was pulled off near perfectly.

Plot-So after I finished this book, I was a flailing fangirl. To get it out of my system, I messaged my friend Hannah Hunt so I could tell her about the fabulousness of this book; she asked me to describe it to her, so I did.

And then I thought: wow, I didn't do it justice, because my description sounded a tad bit like a cliche. Yet, I didn't find the book cliche. At all.

I don't know, there's something about an invisible school girl (Piper even calls herself invisible; she is the yearbook photographer, after all; she's expected to be everywhere, and nobody really pays her any attention. Except for Nick. But he's hot and he's a sweetheart, so that's okay.) playing vigilante in the worst ways possible. The thing is, Piper's not a very good person; the majority of the book was spent with be saying to myself, "Piper's definitely not a good person." Yet, I loved that; she's not a saint, and she's as much to blame for some of the things that happen as the actual texter.

Plus, there's that notebook Piper finds that kind of sets it all off, but what really threw me off (and, spoiler): the notebook she finds and the anonymous text messages aren't even related to each other.

That's right. My mind was blown. it was really just a series of coincidences, things that all happened at the same time: notebook, student death, texts. Then Piper gives in, and while she's not the one actually pulling off the stunts aimed at maiming students' reputations, she's the one who provides the names while she tries to figure out who the heck is responsible. There's plenty of twists and turns, and secrets come spilling out of this small Ohio town like a gas leak. It's absolutely insane, and it definitely kept me on my toes (so to speak; I was sitting down while I read this) the entire time I read it.

And that ending? *mind blown*

Characters-I mentioned in my review for Richards' last novel, SIX MONTHS LATER, that the thing that really stole my heart was the fact that she has the ability to portray high-school and high-school students as absolutely normal and natural; basically, she doesn't stereotype. Sure, there's still the jocks who think they own everything, the "popular" girl, and so forth, but where I find some authors err is the way in which they exaggerate those attitudes (which is what also makes me keep my distance and be weary of novels where a high-school play a big role).

Richards, instead, breathes a new life into everybody. There's actual reasons behind the way everyone acts (for example: Jackson, the biggest jock on campus, who has a plethora of family troubles and struggles with anger management). The "cliques" mix and match, there's nice people and awful people, and people with secrets everywhere.

It's a whirlwind, and Richards does magic with crafting characters that are suspicious, sweet, kind, dangerous; and, remember, everyone has a secret. Trust nobody.

I have good news for anyone who's fallen as deeply in love with Richards' books as I have: she's working on her third book. No word on release date, yet, but you can be sure I'm going to be all over it. 

Final Answer: 4.66 / 5 stars

Tweet It:

@Rae_Slater reviews GONE TOO FAR @NatDRichards and calls it a whirlwind: perfect for mystery-lovers & everyone else (Click to Tweet)

Read the notebook, and don't trust anybody. GONE TOO FAR @NatDRichards. Read the review via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)


  1. This is so lovely -- thank you loads and loads for this incredibly sweet review and most of all for being such a champion of my work. I can't tell you how much it means to me -- truly. :) <3

    1. It's the least I can do; I think you're such an incredible writer, and I wish you all the best and luck!

  2. I love this book too, and had to come check out your blog. Great review on a great book! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Rae. :)

    1. It's great to find another fan! Thanks so much for your kind words, and for stopping by, Leigh Anne!