Janelle Dazzlepants's Reviews > Untouchable

Untouchable by Kate Brian
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Feb 12, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: chick-lit, mystery, young-adult, murder-mystery, whodunnit
Read from February 09 to 13, 2011

** spoiler alert ** If you were concerned with the pacing of Private and Invitation Only, you can rest easy. The pace picks up, and this book finally casts away doubt as to whether this series is actually a murder mystery. We start to form suspicions, and we get enough clues to compensate for the 'nothingness' of the previous 2 books.

One of the things I was very concerned with was the pacing of Untouchable. Nothing much happened in Private but I assumed the author was setting the scene, only to find the same thing happening in Invitation Only. The books were 98% school drama and 2% murder mystery, and I was worried that this structure would continue throughout the series. Luckily the pace picks up a fair bit in Untouchable, and the murder mystery is more evenly distributed throughout the text. The author doesn't wait until the last 2 pages to kill someone off or find the body.

Unfortunately Reed is even more annoying in Untouchable than in Invitation Only. She's all shocked when the cops say she could've prevented Thomas' death by coming forward with the note earlier, and then in the weeks after his death she goes half off the deep end, despite the fact that she only knew this guy briefly. Considering how much I'm beginning to dislike this character, you can probably imagine how happy I was when the cops pwned her like that. I hate it when people withhold that kind of information in movies and TV, and rarely do they ever feel the consequences. Reed was basically told it was all her fault, and I could've jumped for fucking joy.

I also thought her downward spiral after Thomas' death was incredibly disproportionate and inappropriate considering how long they actually dated. They had a tumultuous affair and she lost her virginity to him, but when it comes down to it they only dated for a few weeks. I expected her to grieve for a fortnight at most and move on, but instead she acted like she'd lost her husband of 10 years. The sadness wasn't a problem, but her rage during soccer practise and the 'woe is me, nobody understands me, fuck off' bullshit was just infuriating. I don't feel she was with Thomas long enough or that close to him to warrant that depth of emotion.

She also contradicts herself. In Private she says something to the effect of 'I never thought I'd be the person who just lets their first time happen, and have it not be special' then after Thomas dies she's like 'WAHHHH I LOST MY VIRGINITY TO HIM, IT WAS SO SPECIAL, HE WAS SO SPECIAL'. You could argue that it's a matter of not appreciating what you have until it's gone, but it feels more like Reed is just reaching. Which one is it, Reed? Special or not special?

Not gonna lie, I rolled my eyes when Reed started falling for Thomas' roommate Josh. It was cliche and again, inappropriate considering the length of Reed's relationship with Thomas. The falling-for-your-spouse's-best-friend-after-they-die thing works in movies, mostly when the couple have been together for years and the friend is a close and constant fixture in the background. Then you can justify it as the friend being there for them during the grieving period and it turning into something more. The main reason it doesn't quite work in this series is not just the length of the relationship, but that Josh was barely even mentioned until Thomas died. I can't recall Reed ever talking to Josh beyond asking if Thomas would be at breakfast, and we hear nothing of his perspective.

So Josh is all but marginalised in Private, then suddenly becomes a central character from page 1 in Invitation Only. Invitation Only opens with a party in the woods and Josh showing overt interest and jealousy of Reed, and I remember thinking 'Who is Josh again? What does he look like? Is that Gage's friend?' I think the relationship would seem more plausible if Josh had had a bigger role in Private, rather than just coming out of nowhere in Invitation Only and Untouchable. He might as well have been a foreign exchange student, considering he went from invisible to being one of the main characters.

I do love where the author took his story in Untouchable though, turning him from this sweet and caring friend/boyfriend into a potential monster. I loved the clues that Noelle planted about his medication and history with roommates, and that the police have actually arrested him on suspicion of killing Thomas. The author has done something here that Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard rarely did - had the cops following the same theory as the main character. In PLL the girls formulate these theories about A and the killer and try to get the cops to follow them up, but the cops repeatedly shoot them down and don't bother to look into it. In Untouchable the cops have independently come to a similar conclusion as Reed and actually act on it.

I don't believe Josh killed Thomas though, as it's much too early in the series and the author dropped some really exciting clues. The Private books were recommended to me when I was seeking a YA murder mystery series, and one would hope that a murder mystery would extend beyond suspecting two characters (the other being Thomas' supplier, Rick the Townie).

The author also strongly insinuated that the Billings Girls have something to do with it, if they're not wholly responsible for Thomas' murder. I mentioned before that the clues Noelle planted about Josh were interesting, with the key word being planted. It certainly seems that she tried to plant seeds of doubt in Reed's mind about Josh, that would in turn deflect attention away from herself. She really seemed to push the idea that Josh was unstable, and letting Reed in on his history appeared very calculated. Noelle has certainly demonstrated her talent for deceit, and if she's not doing this on purpose I'll eat my hat.

Taylor was also the source of some pretty big clues. I thought Taylor's repeated breakdowns were just a result of her inability to cope with a student death, but the way Noelle yelled at her at the let's-celebrate-Thomas'-life party set alarm bells ringing. She said Taylor had no self-control, and had repeatedly shown her disgust whenever Taylor had mini breakdowns. And the way Noelle and Kiran consoled Taylor in the spa change room just screamed that they were covering up Thomas' death and Taylor couldn't deal with what they'd done.

Then there's the matter of Taylor's real whereabouts, which is even more exciting! She left campus in one of Kiran's mother's cars, supposedly to check into a mental health facility. This was obviously untrue based on how Kiran freaked out when Reed revealed she knew it had been in one of Mrs. Hayes' cars. I had no clue where Taylor had actually gone though and had pushed it to the back of my mind until Reed received the IMs from her at the end, confirming the Billings Girls are lying. I still have no clue where Taylor could be though, but am so excited to see where the story goes now! The abundance of clues in Untouchable almost make up for the lack of everything in Private and Invitation only.

Overall: If you were concerned about the pacing of Private and Invitation Only, you'll love Untouchable. The pacing could always be better, but Untouchable does pick up and finally starts to earn its keep as a murder mystery. We're let in on some really exciting clues, and for once I'm excited to start the next book. However, if you also find Reed to be annoying as fuck, know that it doesn't let up in this book. She's annoying as ever, and her behaviour is likely to continue throughout the series. I can only hope that the murder mystery makes up for such a twatty protagonist.
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