Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
A thrilling story I didn't want to put down!
Jessica Sanchez and Jake Healy were the cutest couple in Crystal Cove, and their upcoming senior year promised to be epic. Jessica is a quiet, pretty girl next door who is planning on attending an out-of-state college after graduation. Jake, still adapting to his father's recent death from pancreatic cancer, has no college plans and is already dreading their separation. He is determined to make their final school year together the best.
To kick off the new school year, Jake wants to attend an end-of-summer party hosted by the spoiled rich girl, Tegan Sheffield. But Jess and Tegan have a history with each other. The once best friends had had a very public falling out two years earlier over Jess's continued friendship with a girl Tegan disliked. Their feud escalated when the boy Tegan dated (Jake) broke up with her and later began dating Jess. Tegan had been doing everything she could to break the couple up or make their lives miserable ever since. Jessica doesn't want to go to the party but agrees to please Jake. That would not be the first or last mistake the pair would make that night.
Friends Like These is an enthralling and thrilling mystery that had me hooked from the very start! The story unfolds from the points of view of the three main characters, Jess, Jake, and Tegan. I started the story thinking I was reading about simple, straightforward high school kids and drama, and I was so wrong. Not only are some very complicated personalities revealed, but the plot is also so much more complex, with twists and turns that make me blink.
The story involves one of the main characters disappearing without a trace from the end-of-summer party. Because of the circumstances and personalities involved, I was never sure if they were actually missing or just hiding out, although all indications were the former. There were more than a few alternatives for the disappearance and several possible suspects, depending on which scenario was the right one. I never guessed the truth until it was actually revealed.
The main characters' backstories vary, but all are affected by their pasts and past relationships. There are so many pivotal moments during the story's events where had a different choice been made at any point, what happened at the party never would have occurred. This was very much a 'perfect storm' of a story.
In addition to a missing person case and a murder, the book explores drug-assisted sexual assault within its unique plot. Some very important points are demonstrated, and though the hook is the story's drama, readers of all ages can learn something from what some characters do and what happens to others.
FRIENDS LIKE THESE was a thrilling story I didn't want to put down, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy YA mystery fiction or thrillers.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.