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Girl Last Seen by Anne Greenwood Brown

Girl Last Seen by Anne Greenwood Brown
Pub. Date: March 1, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, AW Teen!)
Summary: Kadence Mulligan’s star was rising. She and her best friend, Lauren DeSanto, watched their songs go viral on YouTube, then she launched a solo career when a nasty throat infection paralyzed Lauren’s vocal chords. Everyone knows Lauren and Kadence had a major falling-out over Kady’s boyfriend. But Lauren knows how deceptive Kadence could be sometimes. And nobody believes Lauren when she claims she had nothing to do with the disappearance. Or the blood evidence.
As the town and local media condemn Lauren, she realizes the only way to clear her name is to discover the truth herself. Lauren slowly unravels the twisted life of Kadence Mulligan and sees that there was more to her than she ever knew. But will she realize she’s unknowingly playing a part in an elaborate game to cover up a crime before it’s too late?

Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary

What happened to Kady? Best friends since 7th Grade, Kadence and Lauren have practically been attached at the hip for years. Their YouTube videos are on the rise, one even having gone viral, and fame is just around the corner. …until a throat infection paralyzes Lauren’s vocal chords and Kadence ultimately makes the decision to go solo. Throw in a fight over Kady’s boyfriend and it’s no surprise the former BFFs had a nasty falling-out. Things go from bad to worse when Kady goes missing – and the last person to see her was Lauren.

A collaborative effort by Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu, Girl Last Seen is my introduction to both authors and, to be honest, I was all about it in the beginning. Between the fascinating premise (especially the YouTube sensation bit!) and the mystery itself, I was totally prepared to settle in for a fun ride. Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Early on it’s revealed that Kady and Lauren weren’t quite the perfect angels they set out to be. See, before Kady moved into town, Lauren had another best friend. She and Nathan spent every moment together; she didn’t care that he had terrible acne or lived in a trailer park. Once Kady burst onto the scene, however, Nathan was instantly dropped and horribly bullied. Years later, Nathan now goes by his middle name Jude and with a new look and new attitude it’s hard to imagine him as the little boy he once was. While he might be a new person on the outside, he’s still extremely hurt by what those girls put him through and he’s back in town and out for revenge.

Girl Last Seen is told through the eyes of Lauren, Jude, and Kady’s boyfriend Mason, as well as video clips that Kady had recorded. With each chapter, I liked these characters less and less – especially Jude. This guy is meant to be the love interest, yet he’s a legit stalker. Not just in a ‘I moved back to town to be near you’ way, but in a ‘keep track of every hair appointment’ kind of way, down to the very minute. He has an entire calendar devoted to these two girls and even tallies their YouTube hits. No, Lauren, stay away. WAY away.

While Girl Last Seen was fast-paced and readable to the point of being a one-sitting read, the big ‘twist’ reveal felt like a cop-out and the latter half of the story was a descent into insanity: a rape subplot, poisoning, Jude’s super creepy stalking. As much as I wanted to enjoy this one, I’m sad to say it just wasn’t for me.

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