@doctorfusionbebop: Some 17 y. o. chick named Dee Guerrera was just sent to Alcatraz 2.0 for killing her stepsister. So, how long do you think she'll last?
@morrisdavis72195: I hope she meets justice! She'll get what's coming to her! BWAHAHA!
@EltonJohnForevzz: Me? I think Dee's innocent. And I hope she can survive.
WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society's most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.
When seventeen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she's about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn't commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she's innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman's cast of executioners kill them off one by one?
About the Author
Gretchen McNeil is the author of I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl and the Don't Get Mad duology, as well as the YA horror novels Possess, 3:59, Relic, and Ten which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and was adapted as the Lifetime original movie Ten: Murder Island in 2017. You can find her online at www.GretchenMcNeil.com, on Instagram @Gretchen_McNeil, and on Twitter @GretchenMcNeil.
Read an Excerpt
THE INSTANT DEE GUERRERA PEELED OPEN HER EYELIDS AND gazed around the dimly lit warehouse, she knew she was screwed.
Fifty million people are about to watch me die.
She lay on the concrete floor, its chill permeating her clothes, and recalled the insanity that had landed her here. Three weeks ago, the most important things in her life had been college applications and securing a date to the prom. Then the body, the trial. She'd hardly had time to process what had happened before she'd found herself sitting in a courtroom, listening to a jury find her guilty of first-degree murder.
Was that this morning? Yesterday? Dee tried to remember how much time had passed since the verdict, but her mind was fuzzy, her breathing labored as if she'd been drugged....
The bailiff. As the judge read her sentence, she'd heard the bailiff come up behind her. She'd expected to be escorted back to her cell, but instead felt a hand on her wrist, a pinch on her arm. It must have been a needle. She'd been rendered unconscious before they hauled her off to Alcatraz 2.0.
Alcatraz 2.0. She'd heard the judge say it, but she still could hardly believe it. That sentence was usually reserved for the most infamous of convicted killers: mobsters, mass murderers, terrorists, assassins. They were notorious. They were dangerous. They got good ratings. Dee was just a seventeen-year-old nobody who couldn't even throw a punch, let alone stay alive long enough on Alcatraz 2.0 to gain a cult following.
Yet here she was, about to be the star attraction on the number one live-streaming show in the country.
Alcatraz 2.0, the suburban island in the San Francisco Bay where convicted murderers were hunted down by government-sanctioned serial killers for America's amusement, had been the brainchild of an anonymous television mogul known only as The Postman. When a former reality "star" was elected president of the United States, The Postman had used his clout to sell the federal government on the idea of capital punishment as entertainment. Broadcasting the over-the-top theatrics of The Postman's band of psychotic killers — each with their own thematic brand of murder — not only reminded citizens of what awaited them if they broke the law, but kept them glued to their screens, where they were less likely to break said laws in the first place.
The Postman app had been a runaway success. Fans could watch 24/7, cycling through a range of live camera feeds from all over the island: inmates at "home" in their apartments, at "work" on Alcatraz 2.0's Main Street, and, of course, the murders. A double-doorbell notification alerted users of a kill in progress, which they could watch live or in a variety of replays on the app. Users "spiked" videos to show their appreciation, and before long, all The Postman's killers had their own fandoms, forums, merch, video games, and RPGs, plus the lucrative betting markets, all controlled by Postman Enterprises, Inc.
The Postman's killers were media-driven celebrities, just like the president, though they were faceless, masked. There were even conspiracy-theory TV shows devoted to speculation about the killers' secret 3 identities. Were the Hardy Girls actually minivan-driving soccer moms? Didn't Gassy Al's voice sound like the announcer on The Price Is Right?
The whole thing was fucking nuts.
But while all of Dee's friends and even her stepsister, Monica, had been obsessed with The Postman, Dee had refused to watch. In fact, just hearing the telltale Ding-dong! Ding-dong! notification triggered a full-on PTSD panic attack as Dee internalized the inmate's fear and instantly relived the six days she'd spent trapped in a white windowless room by a deranged kidnapper when she was eleven years old.
So yeah, Dee loathed everything about The Postman, even if technically it was justice served.
That had been the main selling point of The Postman — justice. But was it really delivered? Dee's trial for Monica's murder had been a complete joke, from dubious DNA evidence to a psychiatrist who'd only interviewed Dee once, then testified that she suffered from a deep-seated jealousy of and hatred for her stepsister. Total bullshit.
But the jury didn't think so, which had landed Dee in one of The Postman's kill rooms.
Dee had thought she'd get at least a few weeks to settle into her life on the island. Didn't most inmates hang around for a while until the audience became invested in their stories, personas, jobs, and intra-island relationships? Crap. Dee should have paid more attention to The Postman app when she'd had the chance. At least then she'd have some knowledge of what she was in for. Now she'd have to rely on what she'd learned from Monica, or picked up during her trial, when she'd been forced to watch a nonstop Alcatraz 2.0 feed in her prison cell.
Well, she knew one thing for sure: one of The Postman's psychos was about to shed her blood. Who would it be?
Would she end up as the main ingredient in one of Hannah Ball's 4 cannibalistic casseroles? Or starring in a Cecil B. DeViolent splatterporn re-creation of Gone with the Wind? Was Gucci Hangman at that very moment constructing a designer noose for her neck, expertly crafted to match her complexion and outfit and the latest trends from New York Fashion Week while it slowly strangled the life out of her? Or was Molly Mauler about to flood the room with water and piranhas and make her choose death by suffocation or mastication?
No, wait. She'd seen Molly kill with piranhas just last week. A bank robber who'd knocked off a security guard or something. So no piranhas. Jellyfish, maybe? Or sea snakes? Was that even a thing?
With a heavy sigh, Dee pushed herself to her feet and took stock of her situation. She glanced down at her clothes and realized that her orange prison jumpsuit had been replaced by a floor-length ball gown of iridescent pale blue tulle and satin, with a pair of clear Lucite kitten heels on her feet. An outfit fit for a princess, which meant ...
"Crap." She was about to be Prince Slycer's next victim.
Slycer was the worst. Not only did he chase his victims through booby-trap-riddled mazes, but he made them dress up like Disney Princesses while he hunted them down and skewered them with an arsenal of increasingly large and bizarre cake knives. Dee spun around, looking for the mirror — Slycer always left one for his victims — to see what twisted fairy tale she was about to relive. The cracked pane was ten feet away, hanging from a rusty nail on the wall. Blue dress, black choker, elbow-length gloves, matching sparkly headband. And her dark brown hair had been twisted up into a bun.
"Cinderella?" A blond housemaid. Seriously? He couldn't even pick a brunette?
This sucks on so many levels.
Slycer's last victim had been done up as Rapunzel, complete with an elaborately long wig that the poor girl kept tripping over as Slycer came in for the kill. Monica had been obsessed with her death, watching it over and over again as Rapunzel crawled away, pathetically begging for mercy. Immediately #SlowCrawl trended on The Postman feed as millions of people critiqued Rapunzel's performance. What would Dee's death include? #ExplodingPumpkins? #KillerMice? So freaking humiliating. Bad enough she was seconds away from getting a twelve-inch blade through the sternum, but she had to trend as well?
Still, Dee knew better than to fight back. There would be no escape, no appeal. There never was after an Alcatraz 2.0 sentence. And Dee didn't stand a chance against The Postman's killers. Even badass MMA fighter Nancy Wu had only lasted four months. No, the most Dee could hope for was to put on a good show in her final moments, maybe sell some merchandise from The Postman's e-store to help her dad and stepmom with the legal bills.
So, best-case scenario: T-shirts depicting her mangled corpse, a smart-phone case sporting her skewered Cinderella silhouette and the hashtag #ADeathIsAWishYourHeartMakes, a shot glass shaped like a cracked glass slipper.
The world was so messed up.
Footsteps broke the silence of the warehouse, jarring Dee back to reality.
Glancing around, Dee saw that she was in a small chamber, walls on all four sides, lit by a single spare bulb suspended above her head. In each shadowy corner, a red dot of light indicated a live camera filming her every move, and to either side dark, narrow corridors snaked off in 6 opposite directions. Slycer's footsteps were coming from her right, which meant she was supposed to run the other way. Like a good convicted killer.
Because maybe you really are one.
"Stop it!" Dee said out loud, clenching her fists by her side. "You didn't kill Monica."
It wasn't the first time that doubt about her innocence had nagged at her. Doctors had warned Dee's dad that she might have been more scarred from her childhood-abduction trauma than anyone realized, and then, after hearing Dr. Farooq's testimony ...
Dee's eyes welled up, and she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood as she tried to fight back the tears. You didn't kill her, she repeated silently. No matter what they say.
And then something snapped. Why should Dee be the victim here? The country wanted to see blood, but why did it have to be hers? Prince Slycer had brutally murdered dozens of people, which in Dee's mind made him more deserving of justice served. Besides, if she died, there would be no one left to find Monica's actual killer. That was something worth fighting for, wasn't it?
Dee didn't run. She didn't flee blindly down the pitch-black hallway, stumbling toward whatever sadistic traps Slycer had laid for her. Instead, Dee grabbed the only thing she could use as a weapon — the mirror. She ripped it off the wall, the decrepit nail on which it had hung clanking to the concrete floor, and waited beneath the single suspended lightbulb.
A figure emerged from the corridor. Prince Slycer was dressed all in white: crisp straight-leg pants, shiny patent-leather shoes, and a wide-shouldered coat bedecked with gold buttons and matching epaulets. He was Cinderella's prince, just like the cartoon character Dee had loved growing up. But instead of a glass slipper, he gripped a nasty serrated 7 knife in his hand, and his face was obscured by an enormous pair of night-vision goggles.
Oh, so he'll be able to see in the pitch-black maze, but I won't. Coward.
It seemed so cheap, so ridiculously lopsided. A kitten versus a cheetah. Except that Dee had seen enough Hollywood blockbusters to know that this cheetah had a weakness.
Prince Slycer stared at Dee from the shadows, head cocked to the side, as if he was confused by her lack of blind panic. She wondered if he was worried about the ranking of this video. Prince Slycer was pretty popular, but even he wanted to make sure each and every kill got a high number of spikes to up his profit-sharing potential. So Dee's refusal to play along had to be worrisome.
Good. Fuck this guy. I'm not a toy.
He flicked his head toward the opposite corridor, prompting Dee to run, but there was no way in hell she would plunge recklessly into the darkness. She shook her head defiantly from side to side.
Prince Slycer sighed, epaulets sagging as his shoulders drooped. The body language reeked of irritation, though he never said a word. This time he pointed the blade at the hallway, like a parent punishing a child. Go to your room. Now.
"Screw you," Dee said.
That did it. Prince Slycer lowered his chin, his goggled eyes boring a hole right through her, and marched across the room.
Dee barely had time to react. She took two steps back until the mirror was directly under the light; then she angled it to reflect the overhead bulb and aimed the concentrated beam at Prince Slycer's night-vision goggles.
"Shit!" she heard him say, although it sounded more like "shite," as if he spoke with an accent.
No one had ever heard Prince Slycer's voice, and Dee imagined that 8 #SlycerSpeaks would be trending within seconds. But she didn't have time to ponder the newest megahit hashtag: Slycer shielded his eyes with his arm and charged.
Dee dodged just as he slashed at her face with the menacing blade, missing her by inches. She darted out of the way and kicked at the pristinely white legs of his costume. He stumbled, and as Dee swung around, she cracked the mirror against the back of his head.
Prince Slycer sprawled onto the floor, momentarily flailing his arms and legs, and then all was deathly still.
Except for the blood pooling beneath his body.
DEE STOOD FROZEN, MIRROR IN HAND, STARING DOWN AT THE body of Prince Slycer.
What the hell had she just done? Every single one of The Postman's killers would be after her now, not just for sport, but for revenge. Maybe two or three of them would capture her at once — she'd be skewered by one of Robin's Hood's arrows while Gassy Al asphyxiated her with hydrogen cyanide.
She heard a noise, the soft patter of footsteps, as if someone was moving toward her through one of the corridors. What if the rest of The Postman's killers were in the warehouse with her right now?
As if in answer, the power suddenly switched on, flooding the dingy space with an aggressive amount of artificial light. Dee blinked and spun around, searching for an escape route as she expected a half dozen maniacs to assault her all at once.
Instead, a lanky guy about her age with carefully tousled blond hair and more teeth than one person's mouth should be able to accommodate entered the room the same way Slycer had come. "Well, I'd say you just became the most notorious girl in the entire bloody world," he said in a crisp British accent.
"Stay away from me!" Dee cried, holding the mirror in front of her like a shield. "Or — or I'll kill you, too."
The Brit paused, and his unnaturally blue eyes scanned her from head to toe. Then he gestured to one corner of the room. "Don't worry. They've stopped filming."
Dee's eyes drifted up to the cameras. The red lights had all gone dark. "Oh." Was that a good thing? Not a good thing? Damn it, why hadn't she paid more attention to this stupid app?
"And you didn't exactly kill him now, did you?" he continued, as if scolding her. "I mean, he fell on his own sword, so to speak."
Dee's grip on the mirror tightened. He'd been watching. Holy shit, was this The Postman himself?
The Brit nodded at Slycer's body. "I'm not one of them, if that's what you're worried about."
He smiled, inviting her trust, but Dee hesitated.
Point in his favor: there was no way this guy was old enough to be a successful Hollywood producer like The Postman was rumored to be.
Point against: dude was literally hanging around, waiting to watch Dee get murdered. And since she'd survived, maybe he was there to finish the job?
Either way, his appearance in the warehouse wasn't exactly trust-inducing. She needed to stay on her guard. "Who are you? "
Instead of answering, Blondy McBrit crouched beside Prince Slycer's body, surveying the corpse. "Brilliant. I haven't seen anything like this since Nancy Wu round-kicked the Caped Capuchin into a broken neck." He whistled low. "When The Postman finds out, it'll do his nut."
"Is that good?" His carefree attitude was disarming.
He smiled knowingly. "All the Painiacs will be after you."
He arched an eyebrow. "What do you think?"
About him? About the fact that, by some bizarre turn of fate, she was still alive? About the ten other serial killers who were about to be unleashed on her?
He pushed himself to his feet and stepped closer, skillfully maneuvering around Slycer's coagulating blood. "'Painiacs,'" he repeated. "It's a portmanteau of my own invention. 'Pain' plus 'maniacs.' Do you think it'll catch on, or should I get more of a Postman reference in there, like 'Postmaniacs'? Except I'm using 'Postmantics' for the fans, so that might be confusing."
His face dropped, disappointed at Dee's lack of approval. "It's a work in progress."
Was he for real? "There's a dead guy in a pool of his own blood two feet away and you're worried about your hashtag?"
Blondy McBrit sighed. "Sorry. I forgot. This is all new for you. Personally, I abhor violence, but after a while you get callous."
A while? "How long have you been here? " "Seven months, one week, three days," he said without hesitating.
Dee's eyes grew wide. She'd never heard of anyone surviving that long on Alcatraz 2.0.
Excerpted from "#MurderTrending"
Copyright © 2018 Gretchen McNeil.
Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As the title says, spoilers so please watch out I seriously loved this book, the dark imagery and how the Painiacs (Sorry If I spelt that incorrectly-) all had some sort of up to date reference, or they just had puns in their name.. it made the killers seem whimsical and funny before... they start killing Then the characters, oh my goodness... I love how even the Painiacs have little moments of panic, like Cecil B and Gucci Hangman... like the only one of those people that I feel a bit bad for is Molly, since she stopped trying to kill Dee for like a moment before she died. But, other then the Painiacs my favorite character has to be Mara, because before she 'died' the gal was really sweet and knew a lot about the Painiacs (which I thought was sus in the beginning and was totally right..-) and I adored the twist.. like the fact that Dee started mistaking her for her own sister, and that Mara was the very own person who craved to be Dee's sister so bad... I mean that was wonderful! Then there's another mystery, is the postman still alive?? I mean, even if 'Mara' referred to him in past tense I seriously doubt he's dead... because what would the second book be about then..? Like maybe a copy cat or something?? But anyway, I am excited to read that second book!! Finally, I really Hope we'll get to see the person with the username 'The Griff' pop up again in the second book, since they did have a comment (or two) on each of the comment section pages! Like I'm excited to learn more about whoever that might be! Anyway, signing out for now, I'll for sure comment on the next book, peace! -Kimmi's sister
i was honestly hooked
Kinda reminds be of the hunger games exept a lil changed up
Dee Guerrara wakes up in the worst possible situation. She has been convicted of a crime and will serve her time in Alcatraz 2.0. This subdivision of the Department of Justice is run by the Postman, who has set up a system in which stylized, branded killers target island inmates and issue the ultimate sentence. The Postman records the events on Alcatraz 2.0 & showcases them in an app, establishing a full fandom around each killer & occasional inmates. After Dee accidentally kills her killer on her first day, she becomes a fan favorite and key target. But the inconsistencies from her trial, and a number of scary coincidences on the island lead her to wonder if Alcatraz 2.0 is even more contrived and terrifying than she originally thought. #murdertrending is a thrilling page turner with such a unique setting that you can help but be engrossed in Dee's story. The details and systems of Alcatraz 2.0 & the Postman app are half the fun. What a clever setup! Each killer has a ridiculous name and persona (Molly Mauler, who uses wild animals to tear apart her victims; Gucci Hangman, who stages an elaborate theatrical scene for his murders & always uses an expensive scarf as his weapon) & a dedicated fan base. Dee and her fellow inmates, aptly dubbed the Death Row Breakfast Club by app fans, are endearing and easy to root for. The themes and tone of this book are tremendously dark, but for a book filled with killers and murder, it was really fun. I'm concerned about myself for saying that, but the book is so outside of the realm of reality that I never took it super seriously and just enjoyed it for what it is - a suspenseful, fast-paced mystery. Grab this one if you love One of Us is Lying or The Purge movies.
Librarian: Like many other librarians (and other professional readers) I will admit to the fact that I am getting slightly sick of YA Dystopias. There's just so many of them, and for the most part they're all quite similar. There's a few general types (ie corrupt government, people divided up into some type of social classes, protagonist thrown into prison for a crime they didn't commit, etc). This one is of the "protagonist in prison for a crime they didn't commit" type. In this case, the crime is murder, and the prison is a town where prisoners systematically hunt one another down, all while being live-streamed around the world. If that sounds like a Black Mirror episode, while it feels like one too. And that's part of why this YA Dystopia is a bit more fun and less formulaic than some others. It's not as heavy on the corrupt government thing as most examples of the genre, which may appeal to readers who feel like they see enough government corruption in the real world. This book also feels more mystery centered, and I think that might make it appeal to a slightly larger audience than it might otherwise. Reader: As I said, this book feels like an episode of Black Mirror (and not the one with the two women who fell in love in the virtual reality world). As such, the dystopian aspects are more focused on the evils of technology than on the type of government who would find this a good idea in the first place. That's kind of nice. Also the story is fairly fast paced and enjoyable. It's a tad predictable at times, but then, what YA novel isn't? 3.5/5 Stars
Horror with a bit of humor! Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Murder Trending by Gretchen McNeil! Government-sanctioned serial killers entertain citizens on The Postman app, which shows them hunting and killing convicts. A seventeen-year-old has been convicted of killing her stepsister. This teen’s name is Dee and she says she’s innocent. After the trial, Dee woke up on Alcatraz Island in a cell that reminded her of when she’d been kidnapped as an eleven-year-old. She has no recollection of the time between her trial and waking up in a cell on Alcatraz Island. The back and forth telling of the kidnapping and Alcatraz Island was difficult to follow for a while, but I kept reading and the story did get better. The characters grew on me and the unique plot and setting drew my interest. With some twists and turns and a bit of humor, #Murdertrending is entertaining, 4 stars! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
This book is seriously demented. You are aware of the fact that Alcatraz 2.0 is this twisted version of justice where only the most vile offenders end up on the island where they are killed off, one by one, while viewers at home watch. However, considering the fact that this is a young adult novel, I wasn’t prepared for all the blood, gore, and suspense of it all. And I do mean that in a really good way. Which makes me sound demented, but I love that the author didn’t tone it down. Alcatraz 2.0 is a really awful place where the executioners all have a moniker and style to their killings. For instance there’s a cannibal, a Robin Hood, and a deranged fashion designer that has a knack for decapitation, just to name a few. The fact that the executions are broadcasted not only live to the viewers at home, but is also blasted throughout Alcatraz 2.0 means that the prisoners, and thus the readers, don’t miss anything. One thing that I found interesting was that the prisoners on Alcatraz 2.0 lived a semi-normal life. They had their own house, they were given a job at one of the various stores on the island, and they would go to the store to purchase food to cook at home. Granted, I say semi-normal because you don’t want to be out at night, there are cameras following you everywhere you go (even the bathroom), and you want to check under your bed every night because there could literally be a killer hiding under it. So while you got a few small moments of normalcy, it was always laced with this fear that you’re being watched and some machete-wielding lunatic could pop out of nowhere, at any second and snatch you up to take you back to the “stage” they have set up for the viewers at home. You know, because what fun would a public killing be if it wasn’t acted out with flair? Needless to say, I really enjoyed #Murdertrending. We got to follow the main character as she makes friends, and fights to stay alive. However, we also got to read some of the comments coming in from the viewers between chapters. It was interesting to not only witness what was going on at Alcatraz 2.0, but to also see how people back home were interpreting it. Between the fanatics who loved it all, to those who called it a conspiracy, to others who thought it was all fake and scripted. It was actually kind of horrifying to think that there would be so many people who would watch something like this and then feel the need to argue about it in the comment feed. But then again, that is society today… which made the whole story just super creepy. My only gripe is the main villain in the story and the whole reasoning behind everything we’ve read. I wish that was a bit more fleshed out. I won’t go into details since I don’t want to ruin anything. I just felt like when everything was said and done, I was left kind of deflated. There was this big buildup and then it was just meh. If you are looking for a dark and twisted story where a group of teens are stuck on an island filled with psychopaths, then look no further. This story is filled with suspense and death. It may be the first book by this author that I’ve read, but I will definitely be adding some more of her stuff to my list.
This book is SPECTACULAR. It's creepy and funny as hell. Its timeliness makes it a particularly exciting and disturbing read. I couldn’t put it down. This is absolutely my favorite novel Gretchen has written thus far and my TOP READ of 2018!
I was lucky enough to receive an advance readers copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I LOVE Gretchen’s writing and this book is just another reason why. This book is a mix of The Breakfast Club and The Running Man. Two of the best themes mixed together creating an AWESOME book. Dee had a traumatic childhood as she was kidnapped by Kimmi, a sociopath teenager. Although Dee escaped the memories were never far behind. Dee later gets convicted of murdering her step sister, Monica, and is sentenced to Alcatraz 2.0 where she has to fight for her life. Shortly after she arrived on Alcatraz 2.0 things become weird. Dee’s past collides with her present revealing her personal horrors while she tries to survive. The main character, Dee, is awesome. She has persevered through her traumatic past . Her determination and self confidence really made me connect with her. The strength she showed by standing up and not giving up really made this character shine. Although I had a sense of who may be behind what was happening on Alcatraz 2.0 the way it was delivered blew me away. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great thriller, horror or young adult book. You will NOT be disappointed.
This was an awesome book! It totally feeds into how social media works today, as well as having a great mystery to be solved that keeps you guessing until the very end! I totally agree with the synopsis about how it is similar to The Hunger Games, because I definitely got that feeling as I was reading about how the executions/murders were televised. So much of this story had all of McNeil's perfect humor while fitting into what would make itself a great horror film, or as it also says in the synopsis above, a great TV series. All of the characters were were interesting, even the ones we didn't get very long to know since they ended up being on the cutting block, literally. The story had a lot of creative, unique bits to it, but also pulled in a lot of pop culture references. What is funny to me about some of those references is that while the teens in the story basically understood what movie it was from, they didn't get all the specific details. I loved that, because so often teens may know of a movie or singer, etc., but it wasn't actually something they'd watched themselves, so little details authors who are adults, like I am, might go over their heads. Like the scene from Zoolander that one of the "Painiacs" as Dee's new friend Nyles has named them, is setting up for. Of course, then there were some things that I felt surely Dee should have figured out earlier. Like the Postman, his identity, and how it could connect with her past. Especially since we got the whole story of it, something that she would really have been pretty well aware of. But then to make up for it, I also really like how the author was able to throw in feelings about current situations in the real world, without actually getting in there and naming specific people, which could alienate those who are possibly supporters of them. The way that she got those digs in was done in such a way that it reminds me of all the discussion I had in English classes about how that classic book has all those themes, that I always actually hated talking about. I mean, I just want to read for the story, and when I do my own writing, whether it is any good or not, I don't know that I throw in hidden meanings or themes. But McNeil has layered it into the story in such a way that it totally makes me want to apologize to any English teacher I had in school that I might have rolled my eyes at (not to their faces, I was a good student) or been totally bored with the talk of that. It was a page-turner, one that at certain points I had a lot of trouble putting down. Even to the point where I had promised myself to start going to bed at a normal time to get ready for school to start again, instead of staying up late reading. The ending was superb, and definitely left it like a good horror movie would, open. Although I didn't realize quite how open it was left until I saw a sequel posted on Goodreads as I was getting my review ready today. Gretchen McNeil has been one of my favorite authors since I first read 3:59 and Ten. I highly recommend her books if you haven't started yet! Also, don't you love the cover of this one? And #DRBC!!
**Thanks so much to the publisher for sending me an e-ARC via Netgalley! It did not change my opinion of the book at all!** WARNING: THERE IS QUITE A BIT OF GORE IN THIS NOVEL. Like, it's actually YA horror and not the fake kind?? So, it brings the gore and the gory descriptions. There is, um, also a lot of murder. If you didn't catch that already. I think I have to be one of the most contradictory person when it comes to horror things. I refuse to watch horror movies because I can't deal. My paranoia for scary stuff is already at an ultimate high, and seeing things with actual jump scares? Yeah, no thanks. However, give me a horror book? And I might be down. And for this book? I was really down. If I had to describe this book, I would call it The Purge meets Scream Queens with a dash of Disney Princesses? If that even makes any sense? But honestly, that's the only way to even describe it. This story brings in a wonderful message of just how much we are sensationalizing violence and gore in this country in kind of a cool and unique way that just happened to feature my beloved Disney ladies. This story tackles our obsession with violence and the sensationalism that comes with it. It also had some interesting notes on what is happening in America right now especially regarding the presidency. It was certainly an interesting look, and to tell the truth, the story got a little scarier page by page because I could honestly see this becoming a thing in our future which each passing day. Which made this a bit of a scary read, tbh. I thought everything about the premise was really interesting. I thought the villains were unique and so morbidly intriguing. There were just so much creativity between each one. Basically there was so much creativity just jam-packed into each and every thing in this book. I can't even begin to describe everything, but McNeil managed to think of a lot and bring a new game to horror. Also, the writing was pretty good. As always, I could have done without the gory descriptions - which I did quite often - but I know they are a key point in the horror genre. Besides that, McNeil did a wonderful job with creating suspense, intrigue, and more. As I said, there was a ton of creativity and some humor which was super fun. I could have done without some things and the past moments I wasn't a fan of even though they were a bit crucial to the story. There were some good plot twists in the story as well and I didn't fully get everything that was happening. The characters were okay. I think that's a lot where the 4 crowns come in instead of the 5. I liked them. I thought Dee and the sidekicks were good...but they weren't great. I mean, I never really connected with any of them. They were a lot of just being there and being okay. I rooted for them, but I mean, I was never invested in them. They definitely quite a bit flat despite being likeable. And Gris totally felt like way too much of a cliche at parts for me. But again, I rooted for them and liked them. Um, also, THERE WERE SO MANY MENTIONS OF DISNEY PRINCESSES. Like, this is a horror book from Disney publishing, but I never expected all the Disney Princess horror. One of the killers dresses his victims up as Disney Princesses and him their prince, and our MC gets stuck as the "princess" character on Murder Island. GUYS AND GALS, I JUST CAN'T. SO AMAZING. Can they be in every horror novel????? Overall, this was such an interesting, quirky read that was YA horror don
Oh man, I loved this book, but I knew I would. Gretchen’s words are always a favorite and she writes murdery goodness like no one else. I loved Dee. She’s smart and somehow levelheaded and much more of a bad a** than I would have been. The Death Row Breakfast Club is just as awesome. I loved Ethan’s movie quotes and Gris’s sarcasm, and Nyles had me at being British. Plot wise it’s quite unique, yet also a bit of a commentary on current events. It was fast paced from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the end. I know this is fairly vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Overall, it was a quick read with characters I was rooting for right from the start. The ending was satisfying and I’m wondering if there will be more. Regardless, I’m 100000% here for Gretchen’s words. **Huge thanks to Freeform for providing the arc free of charge**
With 'reality' television so prevalent in society, the premise of this book is dark and disturbing - and yet, if you squint hard enough, you could almost see this happening in the not too distant future. Which is terrifying. Knowing that the characters could be killed at any moment makes this read even more thrilling, and you may want to remain detached. Which is a difficult thing to do, because some of these characters are so charming (Ethan). The cast of executioners is especially entertaining in a twisted way, with each of them having their own style of dress and preferred killing techniques. Reading the varying opinions of the show in streaming fan discussions presents different theories about what may actually be going on, and the odds of the criminals staying alive at the end of some chapters is a nice touch. I struggled a bit with Dee's sudden transformation from a wide-eyed newbie to a hardened badass, but it did offer some rewarding moments at certain points of the story. With gruesome scenes, gore, and some language, this isn't a book I'd recommend to the younger YA crowd, but for the older readers, this is a compelling, unique concept that offers several surprises. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.