Through the course of reading You’re Next by Kylie Schachte there were many times where I had to stop reading and search online to make sure that I was not reading a sequel. I had to do this often because everything from character introduction to plot development felt like I was missing key pieces typically learned in the first book in a series. Even the story feels like the next chapter in Flora’s life.
Flora appears to me like a half-developed character, wherein we were supposed to learn more about her during her first foray into playing detective – something to which Ms. Schacter often alludes. All of the characters frequently reference that previous detective work. In addition, Flora constantly worries about this new mystery being her last chance to prove herself. Except, we don’t get any details of that key experience in Flora’s life until more than halfway through this mystery. Hence, you experience the story much as you do reading a sequel without having read the first book; you attempt to derive knowledge of the characters and the event they mention through context clues.
The unfinished tone of You’re Next is disconcerting but not the only fault of the novel. Its premise is a bit too far-fetched for comfort. It is most similar to “Veronica Mars” except there is no dad but rather a grandfather with ties to the CIA and uses his connections to provide Flora with evidence to further her investigation. Also, there is no witty banter, and Flora’s list of friends consists of one person. Plus, Flora is barely sixteen in this story and comes with all sorts of mommy issues. Flora does have a little sister who just happens to be a computer whiz who can hack into any secure site she wants.
To add to the list of grievances is the plot itself. Teens in a secret club willing to kill others in order to keep their secret sounds good until you understand what type of secret they are keeping. Once you gain the full picture, you start questioning the mental state of the teens involved. I have a teen now; I spent the last eight years observing teens thanks to my older son. The types of behavior and attitudes mentioned throughout the novel are unlike any teen behavior or attitude I’ve met or observed. These teens are not believable characters. They neither sound nor act in an authentic manner.
You’re Next disappoints me. I’ve read several other debuts under James Patterson’s YA imprint and expected Ms. Schachte’s debut to be equally impressive. With a premise and characters I didn’t believe and a general overall feeling that I was missing something, it was anything but.