Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards (3 out of 5)
I got a galley of this from Valerie at Sourcebooks. Thanks, Valerie! I wasn’t acquainted with Ms. Richards before this, so this was a good introduction. I liked the premise and needed a quick read, so I gave it a shot.
Piper is the high school photographer for Yearbook and other school events. She hears Stella, a popular girl, being mocked mercilessly, and then an embarrassing video of Stella is distributed and the entire school sees it, shaming her. Shortly after, she is killed when she’s hit by a train on the railroad tracks. Piper has a notebook in her possession that may hold more of the key than she wants to. The notebook is chock full of incidents and wrongs that have been committed by people in the notebook. She realizes that all of the people listed are high school associates (names are written in code, but Piper is a smart cookie and she quickly cracks the code). Things take a weirder turn when someone starts texting her, not only about her having this notebook, but about who is going to “get it” next for their misdeeds. Piper should turn in the phone and the notebook, but she’s angry enough at Jackson and the rest of the football jocks to respond. Yes, she responds, even though she knows it’s wrong and going to get her and others in deep shit. She begins texting back those who piss her off, either by making fun of Stella’s death or just treating people (her, her friends Tacey and Manny, the general populace), and the mystery texter makes bad things happen. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean bad like death- like Stella. What happens to Stella is by far the most violent occurrence, so the author gets that out of the way quickly, and it does actually set up the rest of the plot well. You can’t help but sympathize with Piper, because she’s a good teen and her intentions are pure- the mystery texter and teen vigilante? You think not so much. Of course, it wouldn’t be a young adult novel without some sort of confrontation, and Piper has it in spades with a few of the jock crowd that seems intent on making life hell for not only Piper, but for others who aren’t as “popular” (damn Nada Surf reference!), but she also has a flirtation going with Nick, the seemingly model handsome jock who also seems to have a heart of gold. This development seems a bit cliché, as I have seen it and read it many times before, so I tuned that whole part out. Nick finds out that Piper is in on some of this mayhem and angrily tells her she needs to fess up. So–then there’s the struggle to do right, do wrong, or do Nick. What happens? Is Stella’s death avenged? Does Piper get caught? Who the hell is the mystery vigilante? What happens?
My complaints are few and varied- the relationship with Nick is clichéd. The revelation of the mystery texter and perpetrator? I guessed it halfway through, and I was right. That always kills some part of the book for me. However, despite that sinking feeling that I had guessed it and the reason for it, I was still glued to the book because I wanted to see how it would play out. It is incredibly well written and Piper is a great female teen lead. You hope the best for the girl and her future and whatever punishment she gets for her part in this to be miniscule. I really, really enjoyed the idea of the book and the eventual reveal was pretty darn good, so read it, but don’t be devastated if you guess whodunit.