Book Review – The Things We Don’t See

Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of one of my July reads, The Things We Don’t See, a recently released young adult mystery. It’s Savannah Brown’s second novel after the success of The Truth About Keeping Secrets and two poetry collections.

“The year is 1987 and the sleepy village of Sandown Bay is waking up . . .” 

To its residents, Sandown is home – a tiny village holiday resort in the western United States.
To everyone else, it’s a minuscule island, that brings tourists in summer and not a lot else the rest of the time.
To Mona Perry, it’s a mystery.

Thirty-four years ago, promising singer and Sandown resident Roxy Raines went missing, and was never found. The people of the island are still reluctant to talk about it, claiming Roxy was simply a runaway, but the evidence doesn’t quite add up.

Mona is convinced something else is going on. Armed only with a suitcase and a microphone – to record her findings for the general public – this runaway teenager is determined to get to the bottom of the disappearance.

But as Mona gets drawn deeper and deeper into the strange goings on of this isolated community, it is clear that nothing is as it seems – not even Mona’s own past.

Some things are meant to disappear . . . 

This book had the strange ability to be everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere. It starts as a well formed thing, and slowly deteroriates before our eyes as Mona’s own mental health starts to crumble. She becomes more obsessive, and as she does so, the text becomes more obscure, words and phrases catching onto nothing as they drift through the page.

The concept of the book sounds simple enough, but some mysteries don’t want to be solved. It was what I can only imagine to be a realistic scenario; a strange girl turns up and starts asking questions from thirty years ago. Instead of the flood of answers we find in some mystery novels, these have to be prised open like oysterys, searching for pearls within the shells.

Mona’s first day on the island prepares her in some ways for what lies ahead, but in others is a complete opposite of what she’s going to find, and this strange contrast makes for all the more impact as the book continues to throw information together in a twisting way. She becomes close with Ellis, a younger teenager, who she feels automatically protective of, and develops feelings for her roommate Peyton. All of this, however, becomes background noise towards the later part of the book as she searches for answers without considering – or caring about – concequences.

I found the writing style to be intriguing, and certainly clever, but it did become confusing when listening via audiobook because of how disconnected things became. I had to return the audio and stick to the paperback about halfway through because it was so disjointed, and so while it was an entertaining read, it wasn’t the most accessible of books. I do appreciate what the author was trying to achieve, however.

If you enjoy young adult thrillers and mysteries, why not check out my reviews of Truly Devious, One For Sorrow, and The Girls I’ve Been. All are quirky in their own ways, and you may find something you’re looking for within their pages!

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