Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab

I have wanted to read ALL UNQUIET THINGS since I heard the title back in 2009, before it came out. The title drew me in, and the plot made me even more eager to read this.

ALL UNQUIET THINGS takes place in Empire Valley, CA at Brighton, a prep school where, a year before, Carly, a student, was murdered. Neily, Carly's ex-boyfriend, still hasn't gotten over the death of the girl he loved, and he can't stop dreaming about her. So when Audrey, Carly's cousin, suggests that the wrong man - Audrey's father - was convicted of the crime, Neily reluctantly agrees to help Audrey play detective and dig into the dark side of Brighton and the shady crowd Carly had gotten involved with to find out what really happened to her that night.

The book is beautifully written, without a doubt, and the old school noir style works wonderfully with this story. Jarzab weaves in teen angst well with this story of murder, drugs, and deception.

The plot feels slow in the first third of the book, mostly because it is so packed with flashbacks that are mostly necessary to understand the characters' motivations in solving Carly's death. At the same time, the characters are not always likable. Neily can sometimes seem overly dramatic or prudish. Audrey can be blind and annoyingly stubborn. And Carly - whom we get to know very well through the other's flashbacks - could be cruel and self absorbed. But honestly? That's kind of the beauty of this story.
Real people aren't always likable, either. Real people make mistakes like these kids do. Sometimes the characters' behavior made me shake my head or cringe, but I understood them, knowing I've done things just as bad or stupid.

The noir style of this novel really had me going. It's so well done! Completely with snooping, meeting in specified locations, and sometimes a tinge of old school detective-movie dialogue. I loved it!

Anna Jarzab did so well with this book. I can't wait to see what she does next!