Book title: Bone Deep
Author: Kim O’Brien
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release date: May 2015
Format: egalley, 328 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own. Thank you, Spencer Hill!
Spending the summer on an archaeological dig sounds like fun, and it would be, if Paige Patterson didn’t have to work for her dad–the man who walked out on their family. Luckily, her best friend Emily Linton is also interning for her dad. The summer takes on a romantic possibility when she meets Jalen Yazzi–the super attractive son of her father s project manager. But then Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth. What was Emily doing alone in the ruins the night she disappeared? Did she see something she shouldn t have? The search for Emily brings Paige and Jalen closer together, but it also unlocks long hidden crimes and dangerous mysteries. As Paige digs deeper into Emily s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything–even her life.
Bone Deep is an interesting and engaging thriller about the search for a missing girl. It’s set in the Arizona desert with a focus on archaeology and Navajo culture. I really liked the book’s unique themes — I actually briefly wanted to be an archaeologist, and I love reading about Native American legends (well, any legends to be frank). I enjoyed how some of the legends were incorporated into the book’s overall plot.
The book centers on the disappearance of a girl named Emily — who happens to be our protagonist’s best friend. Emily was awesome (for the first quarter of the book she was in). She was smart but also flawed. She was an adrenaline junkie, a total risk taker. She was a true friend to Paige, willing to repair the damage to the friendship after years apart. Their relationship was rocky and they fought during their brief reunion, but Emily had a clear head, unlike Paige (I’ll get to that in a moment), and she was my favorite character in the whole book. Author Kim O’Brien has done a wonderful job at making us care for the character the protagonist goes to find/who is their motivation. So many books just expect you to care without showing you why you should (a recent example is An Ember in the Ashes), but I loved Emily and was truly devastated when she vanished.
Besides the whole whodunit plot, a lot of Bone Deep focuses on Paige’s strained relationship with her father, an archaeology professor. Paige’s parents got divorced and she hasn’t forgiven her father for abandoning her; she believes he values his work over his daughter and so blames him for the break-up. The book is also Paige’s journey to come to grips with her feelings after the divorce, but I found her constant resentment and wallowing in her emotions to be frustrating and tedious. I do love books that have the parent(s) around, being protective and logical (eh, for the most part) and actually having stuff to do plot-wise — and Paige’s dad is definitely a large presence here. At the book’s end when her mom briefly shows up — and with a new soon-to-be hubby in tow — I was expecting Paige to talk to her mom about the things she, Paige, had learned and finally understood. But that didn’t happen. Which I really felt was a missed opportunity. It was disappointing after the huge amount of time dedicated to the divorce.
Paige herself infuriated me at times. She acted so stupidly and lost all sense of logic when her emotions blinded her — emotions concerning her father and Emily to be specific. I really disliked Paige for a large chunk of the book. (You guys know how protagonists who make dumb decisions rub me the wrong way.) But I didn’t ever hate her because most of her stupid actions were fueled with her determination and desperation to find out what happened to Emily. The girls were true best friends since childhood — they fought, they made up, they caused trouble, but they were always there for each other in the end. I just wish Paige had been a bit smarter and safer in her efforts to find Emily.
I had a fun time guessing who was the culprit behind Emily’s disappearance. I figured it out only shortly before Paige did. Maybe it was more obvious to other readers, but I liked all the second-guessing and the feeling of not being able to completely trust what anyone said. There was a constant skin-tingling atmosphere about the book. And the archaeological ruins the characters frequently explored made it even creepier.
There is some romance in the book, and the love interest is a guy named Jalen. He’s half Navajo, half white, and he has conflicted feelings about his identity, ethnicity, and culture. He was a sweet guy with satisfactory chemistry with Paige, but I found the romance a bit tiring and not very special. It was also a mild case of insta-love, and you guys know how insta-love and I get along (meaning we don’t). Additionally, the fact that Paige and Jalen were falling in love with each other while their friend went missing and was very likely murdered felt a little odd. Weird timing, guys? I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t be feeling all lovey-dovey if I’d just lost my best friend. But, hey, we have to throw in romance in every YA book these days it seems. The one here wasn’t bad, but it just felt out of place and rushed.
The story is told from Paige’s POV — mostly. There are a few (and I mean very few) chapters told from Emily and Jalen’s perspectives. These occasional chapters from those two characters felt super random when they popped up — I think Emily actually only had one chapter to herself! The inconsistency was jarring. Personally, I would have loved to have Paige and Emily as alternating narrators until Emily disappeared, and then have Jalen take over Emily’s chapters. Or, better yet, just have the entire book told from Paige’s voice. Dual/multiple perspective in first person is getting really old in YA.
Overall, I did really like Bone Deep. It’s an interesting mystery that’s never dull and introduces multiple characters to suspect. It makes you really care about the missing person the plot revolves around — and that’s my favorite thing about it. ♦
So tell me…
Have you read Bone Deep? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What was the last book about a “missing” person, such as the protagonist’s friend, you read? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!