Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.
Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.
Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.
A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Olsen has written ten nonfiction books, ten novels, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.
The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News; CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen’s Snapped, Court TV’s Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E’s Biography.
In addition to television and radio appearances, the award-winning author has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People, Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post.
The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture.
Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).
I liked this YA mystery. The twins' supernatural talent was unique; if a little discursive. I didn't care for the emails texts, people don't really write that way. Also, he didn't or couldn't get inside the head of real teens. The author was trying too hard to be "cool". He was also flippant about the death of the teenage girl in the book towards the end. Having said that, it did keep my interest, I think there was a better book in here with a little more time.
‘Some of this story is completely true. And some of it isn’t. Like truth, evil comes in all sorts of flavors. Some bitter. Some deceptively sweet. Sometimes it comes with a heavy price. Most people don’t invite evil into their lives. The dirty little secret is that an invitation isn’t necessary. Locked doors don’t matter. Neither do fancy security systems. Evil is kind of amazing when you think about it. She knows how to get inside.’
My main issue with Envy is that I really didn’t get on with the style of writing. I found it painful to read, awkward, plodding, and melodramatic while attempting to be ominous. Olsen tries very hard to create a strong sense of tension, suspense and mystery by over dramatizing every. little. thing, through repetition, bullet points and italics.
‘Neither girl knew it right then, but the night Katelyn Berkley died was the beginning of something that would change everything.
Every. Single. Thing’
~ page 16
‘And finally, not far away, one person got online and started deleted the contents of a file folder marked KATELYN. Inside were copies of emails, messages and photographs that had meant to trap and hurt her so hard. Each item had been designed as payback.
It’s not the least bit subtle, was irritating, and frankly, as a reader, I felt a little talked down to. I believe this is the author’s first YA book (he has, according to the back of the ARC, written several best-selling adult novels), and the way in which he over-emphasizes significant details tells me he doesn’t yet understand or trust his younger audience. Instead of allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions, he bashes us over the head with it.
The editor’s note (which may or may not appear in the final publication), had a similar effect, ‘Young Adult readers beware: there are no cupcakes, ponies or rainbows in this book. Life is messy. Death happens. Evil is all around you – and right within these pages. Envy is just the beginning. Don’t wait for Gregg to push you… jump in.’ The whole thing is just trying too hard.
Aside from the style of writing, the paranormal aspect felt weak. Taylor and Haley, twin protagonists who don’t believe Katelyn killed herself (with an espresso machine, in the bath), have some odd abilities. Haley is compelled to inanimate objects and with a touch can ‘see’ a memory or feeling. Taylor receives coded messages from the dead when she is submerged in water. They first sense something isn't right surrounding Katelyn’s death when, in the middle of the night, from their bedroom window, they see a small boat spell out the message ‘Look’ in the water. (I’m still not quite sure how or why the boat did this, something to do with the foam in the water creating the letters, either way, it's all too random for me).
The characters are flat and lack any sort of personality. The almost clinical way Envy is written makes it very difficult to form any sort of emotional attachment to anyone, something not at all helped by the fact that the majority of the characters came across as fairly unlikable in any case. I’m also not a fan of using text message speech within a narrative, which Olsen utilizes quite a lot, while failing to create an authentic teenager voice.
Basically, everything, from the editor’s opening letter, to the author’s misogynistic note, (considering how women have long been blamed as the root of evil, I don’t particularly appreciate the labeling of ‘evil’ as ‘she’), to the writing, it all served to annoy the hell out of me. Maybe I was simply in a bad mood, maybe this book just put me in a bad mood, but there it is. It’s a shame, because this could have been a solid story about the growing issues of cyber-bullying. As it was, I wasn't interested in finishing this one.
Beneath Her Skin is the first instalment in the young adult Port Gamble Chronicles series, set in the small town of Port Gamble, Washington and is based on a shocking true crime relating to cyber bullying. It opens with 15 year old Katelyn Berkley about to take a bath. Having spent a lot of time crying she doesn't know what to do with herself and the depression she finds herself in. Downstairs in the kitchen her mum, Sandra, is searching for the espresso machine wanting to use the foamer on her Bacardi Spiced Rum and Eggnog. Sandra's parents, Nancy and Paul, had recently left after visiting for Christmas and had dropped a bombshell - their promise to fund Katelyn's college education was no longer possible due to their financial situation. Katelyn had left the table in tears. Now when her mother shouts up to her she gets no reply. Sandra makes her way upstairs and down the hallway. She reaches the bathroom and knocks before stepping inside but what she finds devastates her. Katelyn is slumped over the tub. Under the bath water Sandra can make out the shape of the mini espresso machine still plugged in at the wall. No one is sure whether she committed suicide or if it was an accident but her friends and family are adamant that Katelyn would not have taken her own life.
When the coroner rules her death as accidental by electrocution, twins, neighbours and childhood friends of Katelyn's, Hayley and Taylor Ryan, who have the power to speak to the dead, believe Katelyn is telling them that something sinister happened and that it wasn't just a tragic accident. Believing it could've been homicide,, Hayley and Taylor begin to decipher messages from Katelyn using their special psychic abilities that will tell the truth of what happened that day. But someone is watching their every move around Port Gamble and stalking them like a predator stalks its prey. And they are not alone is trying to find the truth; an investigative journalist is also searching for an explanation. Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out what happened and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined. This is a compulsive, thrilling and engrossing read with twists and turns that blindside you and enough plot action to keep you turning the pages well into the night. I don't normally enjoy books featuring supernatural powers, but I thought it worked really superbly here and added to the drama and intrigue exceptionally. With evil lurking and strange things happening, this is a riveting and thoroughly gripping tale. Highly recommended.
I am astounded at all the four and five star ratings for this book. I hated this book so much. I found this to be unbearably juvenile. I'm a fan of YA fiction, but this felt like writing geared toward 4th-6th graders with mature content thrown in. Such a mess.
Things I hated: 1. The characters were hollow. They didn't feel real. Their dialogue felt empty and forced for the sake of the "story". They were all very unlikeable. 2. Somebody please tell me teenagers don't text/e-mail like that. The texting conversations were horrible. I almost returned the book after I read the first one. God I wish I had. 3. I didn't realize that the twins had "powers" until I read it in the book. There's really not much else to say about them. It was lame. 4. The story was just plain awful.
Things I liked: 1. The cover. 2. I do like that the author is tackling the very real and dangerous problem of internet bullying. I have to admire that.
Beneath her skin is about the death of a local teenager Katelyn. Katelyn was a troubled girl and her death appears to be a suicide this rocks the locals as Katelyn along with twins Hayley and Taylor were the only 3 survivors of a bus crash ten years earlier whilst out on a school trip. The twins suspect that not all is right with the death of Katelyn. Unbeknown to others the twins have psychic gifts, they use this to help them solve the mystery but also find themselves on another path altogether.
So I was expecting a thriller it has to be said and to be honest I often don't read the blurbs because they can give to much away, I wish had with this book I could of prepared myself for the concept. Look I have no beef with psychics at all but I found it unrealistic that two teenage girls would solve the mystery. I wish they were adults and maybe on the police force but I see why the author wrote them as they are. I found it very interesting how they got their messages because they didn't just see things and immediately know they had to work to interpret what they saw and thats what draws the reader in
I honestly think that there could be more depth to each twin but it's the first book in the series so I hope that is built upon in the next book, dying to be her, which I have downloaded. I found it easier to connect with the lead characters once the dialogue with all the other characters had settled down. I think the way the author has written is extremely clever at times I thought this will be a DNF but then a mystery would occur and I wanted to find out what it was. This book is hard to predict we obviously know Taylor and Hayley are trying to uncover the truth however the side stories I found more interesting and was engrossed in their outcomes, even the side story with the twins.
There are quite a few other characters in the book two that stood out to me where Skyler and Beth. Skyler clearly has unresolved issues and is over compensating. Beth is living in the shadow of her dead sister but is hilarious at times.
The main narrative is hit or miss. I think there is a lot of build up for a not so fantastic outcome. However the stories of others were great so thats why I would recommend to read it. Its an easy read but a slow read. I struggled to decide how many stars to give this book and I decided on 3 there is room for improvement , however I liked the characters and I want to continue their journey and thats what helped me decide to raise my stars.
# Thank you to netgalley, bookouture and Gregg Oslen for the digital advanced copy of behind her eyes in exchange for my fair unbiased opinion.
Starting with an angst-ridden teenager, this psychological thriller debuts the twins Haley and Taylor Ryan of Port Gamble. Into their world of schooling, family, boyfriends and the usual teenage microcosm of forging an identity comes the murder of a former friend. Not satisfied with the suicide ruling, the twins discover the darker secrets lying beneath their small-town life as they investigate further. Many skeletons long hidden in the closet will be revealed including some regarding the twins. An enjoyable psychological thriller with elements of the supernatural, an entertaining read with a three-and-a-half-star rating. With thanks to NetGalley and the author for a preview copy for review purposes.
I was initially drawn to this book by the eerie cover so I really wasn’t too sure what to expect when I started it. Was it going to be scary, the mystery to easy to figure out or just another YA paranormal book? Well I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. Envy is a dark, cleverly written mystery with a very real threat.
Envy takes place in Port Gamble, a small town in Washington State, and centers around twin girls Hayley & Taylor. The central plot of the book revolves around the mysterious death of another local teen Katelyn. The girl’s desperately want to learn the truth surrounding her death and as they delve deeper into the mystery, we soon come to realize that there is more to Hayley & Taylor as well.
I thought the plot was interesting (especially as a parent) but I have to admit I was a little nervous at the beginning that I knew exactly where the story was going since Gregg uses a true event as the basis for his story. I don’t want to give anything away in case you aren’t familiar with the actual case but I can say he twisted it up and gave me a bit of a surprise at the end. My biggest pet peeve in mystery novels is when I can figure out what happened to easily so I was happy that Gregg threw me for a bit of a loop at the end.
I enjoyed the paranormal elements in the book but hope we get a little more information in the next book. His characters are definitely a bit on the darker side and I wasn’t quite expecting that. Can you say mean girls? It makes me thankful that I am no longer in high school but makes me nervous as a parent.
My biggest complaint with the book was the text/IM messages between characters. Gregg uses them a lot throughout the beginning of the book and they were so distracting. I had no idea what they were trying to say half the time. I found it so frustrating trying to decode them and it completely took me out of the story. Do teens really text like that? If so, it’s annoying. UGH!
Overall I really liked the book. I thought it touched on a real issue that needs to be addressed but at the same time gave readers a clever mystery to unravel as well. I look forward to discovering more about Hayley & Taylor and what other secrets may be revealed in Port Gamble.
Alright, this book. OK so yeah, I was all ready to like it, was in the mood for a scary read even if it proves to be generic, which can be lots of brainless fun sometimes, in fact I wanted just that. It certainly looked like it could deliver. It started out creepy and I was liking it, kinda reminded me of The Ring, movie American not the book Japanese, maybe because it was set around Seattle with all the verdant rainyness. It began with a very atmospheric tinge and it was very reminiscent of that greenish greeny mood, maybe it was the girl on the cover, which by the way indicated it was a horror novel, but wasn't really. It was mostly a suspense murder mystery with bits and pieces of supernatural stuff happening, but that was presented in the dullest way possible and I am being very nice about it. I want to be fair, so I'll say I did like few things about it, it crept me out here and there, no doubt. The book was competent but I have problems with its storytelling technique. I have major issues with its narrative structure and its cover was very misleading. Worst of all, Olsen made us a guilty of judging his book by its cover and deeming it worthier than it truly was. Third person omniscient nearly choked the life out of this novel, there were no characterizations whatsoever, it was just horribly done. The story was being told to us instead of being shown, God it was terrible.
In many ways this was worse than Twilight and that's saying something. Although they don't have anything in common just the Washington state maybe. Structurally Twilight was better than this. Imagine that. I don't know why but the twins protagonists kinda reminded me of the twins in Hemlock Grove for some reason, despite the fact they were indeed kinda bland. For a true crime writer Olsen seemed really clueless as to how people behave in reality and he seemed really, really insensitive at times. Among many woes to lament, the loudest would be that this should have felt more like a novel than a true crime nonfiction.
It's style and technique frustrated me so much I almost hated Envy as much as Ken Kermode hated the Entourage movie. Just kidding, I don't hate books but Olsen could have done much better with this..... than this.
Supposedly, this is based on a true life event, with Olsen being a true crime writer himself, the denouement and all felt a little too sketchy. He could have at least improved the ending, could have improve upon its over all message. I appreciate the point he was making, the concern he was clearly trying to raise but he should have been more eloquent about it, honestly he could have made the whole thing a little bit more exciting. Another thing, the twins based on his own children who could just divine the clues felt lazy and wasn't very creative. Just terrible, terrible storytelling. I kept repeating no no no no as I trudged through this novel.
I picked up this book because of the cover, the cover is creepy and dark, all the things I love in a book. It was not a horror. And although I was deeply depressed with the fact that the story did not match the cover at all, I kept reading.
This book at best is a who-dunnit mystery with some paranormal activity, I can not call it a thriller and there was very little suspense. The story line was okay, psychic twins looking for the person who killed their old best friend and saving their own butts along the way.
There were parts of the book that didn't make sense, such as why was Shania okay with murdering someone, what promise did she make to the twins mum? Who was Moira working for? Just a few of the questions left unanswered lol.
The main thing that irritated me through the book was: 1. Who takes a damn coffee machine into the bathroom and then leaves it close enough to the bath that it can fall in. And 2. Why didn't Teagan knock on the bathroom door and who even names a boy Teagan, is it an American thing? Teagan here in Australia is a girls name.
The Author has noted that the story line of Envy has taken some "cues" from a famous case involving the suicide of a young girl. The young girls frinds and mother had taken to cyber bullying her via MySpace after a falling out between the girls. At the beginning and throughout you learn of a falling out between two girls and it is hinted that there was some online bullying happening.
"And finally, not far away, one person got online and started deleting the contents of a file folder marked KATELYN."
However the cyber bullying conducted by Katelyn's friend and mother is only really mentioned in the last few chapters and is overshadowed by the 'killer' coming forward. I believe that the cyber bullying would have been a great baseline for the story, if it had actually focused on it, and a believable reason for the death of Katelyn. Not because of an accidental electrocution from a coffee maker. :|
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
- 90% of the plot is ripped off the Megan Meier suicide story. This is acknowledged at the end of the book, but if you've read about Megan Meier and Lori Drew, the twist ending...just isn't one.
- The chapters end with an overly dramatic, ominous line like: "Neither girl knew it right then, but the night Katelyn Berkley died was the beginning of something that would change everything. Everything. Every. Single. Thing." "She was onto something big. Bigger and far more dangerous than she really knew." It made me want to sing "dan dan daaan!" every time.
- The author thinks he's funny and clever, but he's not = a lot of witticisms and attempts at observational humor that fall flat. Example: "Beth deflected the remark by changing the subject. Beth was like that. Taylor thought that Beth's Chinese heritage might have had something to do with it. She often wondered if Beth's ancestors invented fireworks because she seemed to totally get off on lighting fuses and standing back to watch the fun." Ummm...wtf?
- The twins (who are the protagonists, kind of) have psychic powers? What? That came out of nowhere. One can touch stuff and see the past. And the other gets visions while she's underwater. Oh, but they can see the future too -- when they were babies, they warned a woman against a serial killer by spelling with their alphabet soup! Okay...
The characters are flat and superficial; the plot isn't believable; and the writing is cringe-inducing. I guess Gregg Olsen usually does true crime. Maybe he should stick to that.
(By the way, the copy I read was an advance reading copy. Just in case there were amazing edits before they printed the final version.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This book was originally published as ENVY. This new edition has been re-edited since its publication in 2011.
Hayley and Taylor are twins with a gift. They are able to hear the dead.With a true crime writer and psychiatric nurse for parents, the twins were taught to use their gift to give a voice to the innocent.
Katelyn was a friend .. a much closer friend previously... found dead in her bathtub. Suicide...murder ... or accident?
The twins begin to receive messages from Katelyn.. and they are convinced that Katelyn was murdered. Everyone from the most popular cheerleader to the class outcast has motive to have her dead.
And as the twins get closer to the truth, it becomes clear that someone is watching them. Are they next on the hit list?
Although well-written, this is not one of the author's best. It's an intriguing plot if you like paranormal suspense. The characters did not come across as fully formed. Maybe because I'm out of touch with teenagers, at times this seemed to be more for a much younger audience. There didn't seem to be any high points .... and the ending was less than satisfactory. DYING TO BE HER is the second book and hopefully will answer more questions than this one did. That being said. the concept was a good one and I did not feel like my time was wasted.
Many thanks to the author / Bookouture / Netgalley for the digital copy of this Paranormal Suspense. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
When I found out via Daisy Chain Book Reviews that one of my favorite true crime authors was now delving into the world of young adult fiction I was way excited! Who better to weave together true crime, mystery, and paranormal fantasy into a fast paced young adult novel than Gregg Olsen? For years young adult mysteries have languished being replaced with the ever -popular paranormal romance. While these books have had elements of mystery in them they are mainly focused on the romantic entanglements of humans and otherworldly creatures such as vampires and werewolves. What happened to just a good old-fashioned mystery? One where you have to piece together clues and sort through the red herrings to figure out who-dunnit? Now that Gregg Olsen has entered the YA fray with Envy, the first installment of his Empty Coffin series, there is a fresh new voice that expertly encompasses all of the elements of a “can’t put the book down” mystery mixed with all of the things we love about YA novels. Port Gamble, Washington is not your average scenic small town. Bad things happen there. Behind the historic homes and beautiful beaches there is evil, and the first thing one learns is that evil never takes a holiday. Things were not going well for Katelynn Berkley. She was depressed and lonely, shutting herself off from everyone who once cared about her. Former friends Taylor and Hayley Ryan knew that Katelynn needed help, yet they had a difficult time accepting that Katelynn’s unexpected Christmas evening demise was actually a suicide. First there was the manner in which Katelynn supposedly used to kill herself, an espresso machine in the bathtub. Next, were the cryptic messages they were sure Katelynn was sending them from beyond the grave. Messages they felt would unlock the mystery behind Katelynn’s untimely death. As twins, Taylor and Hayley share a psychic connection beyond the boundaries of normal sibling relationships. They have kept the extent of their connection a secret from everyone except each other. How would anyone else be able to understand that they can catch glimpses of the past and future and possibly receive messages from the dead? Their gift has been something that they never gave much thought to until the death of their former friend. Taylor and Hayley want to know the truth behind Katelynn’s death and agree to use their abilities in solving what they come to believe is her murder. The idea of psychic twins might seem a little far-fetched, but Gregg Olsen does a masterful job of creating a subtly to their messages that makes the storyline completely believable. The messages Taylor and Hayley receive are little more than feelings and glimpses they get when they come into contact with something that belonged to Katelynn. These bits of information are what help to propel them in their quest to discover the truth about Katelynn’s death. The cast of characters who reside in Port Gamble are brilliant. Every family has a secret they wish to keep hidden. This not only adds to the creepy factor of the story, but also sets up numerous plotlines for future installments. One of my favorite characters was Starla Larsen. Her name alone is genius. What better name than Starla for a girl who feels that she is better than everyone around her and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Starla is the proverbial “mean girl” in the story and she plays the part well. A villain the reader will relish to learn more about. One of the things that make Envy an engrossing story is the way in which Gregg Olsen weaves fact with fiction throughout the book. While Port Gamble and its residents are his own creation the plot is loosely based on the true story of Megan Meier. Megan was thirteen years old when she committed suicide after being horrifically cyber bullied. Her case brought attention to the cruelty that can be perpetuated by both teens and adults through the various social media outlets many of us innocently enjoy. By using what he knows best, true crime, Olsen creates a story that keeps the reader captivated until the very end. Some of the plot choices he makes are extremely bold and refreshing in that he chose not to soften the events of his story just because it is being written for a young adult audience. There are more than a few OMG moments throughout Envy! While Katelynn’s story comes to a satisfying resolution not all loose ends are tied up in the final chapters of Envy. The second novel in the series, Betrayal, is set for release in the fall of 2012 and promises to deliver on some of the edgier themes touched upon in the first book. Might we see the very first well -done young adult serial killer novel? I hope so! Gregg Olsen definitely has the experience and talent to tackle a topic of that magnitude. I definitely recommend Envy for any reader who loves to be scared, but you might just want to sleep with the light on! Envy is set for release in September 2011. Click HERE to watch the trailer!
Okay so I was asked to read and review an ARC for the sequel to this book, I blindly said yes. I'd never heard of the author or the books. So I was hoping that I would enjoy this book first so I could enjoy the sequel as well. And low and behold, I was HOOKED!! First off, the author is a male and normally I don't read books written by males. Not that I'm bias against them or anything, but I just haven't come across any I really liked besides "I am Number Four", which I am hoping is indeed a male author or I will feel like an ass. But Pittacus? Sounds manly. Anyway, so I was AMAZED that how much I enjoyed this book. I didn't get to read it as fast as I'd have liked because it's a very fast-paced book. However, I've got like 4 ARCs I am currently reading, plus finishing my own for those that are getting antsy.
The premise or this series, is so fresh and interesting and albeit a little eerie, but it's based on facts and stories that have indeed happened. At the end of the book, the author talks about the events that took place and its similar to the book he wrote. Needless to say, I was astounded by this refreshing and emotional story.
Katelyn Berkley, a lonely, misunderstood teenage girl dies suddenly, tragically...in her bathtub. No one knows exactly what happened but the small town of Port Gamble, Washington is intensely affected by the sad news. There are rumors swirling around the school that maybe it was suicide, accidental, or maybe something more....
When the twins Taylor and Haley Ryan try to uncover the events that led to her demise, they discover some devastating secrets that could have possibly saved her if someone would have listened. Taylor and Haley, -sisters that are very different from most teenage girls- knew Katie when they were little and at one point were very close. But as they got older, Katie became reclusive more to herself. She wasn't popular but everyone knew her and for the part, liked her. She always wanted to be a cheerleader but each year when she didn't make the team, she became bitter and jealous of her best friend Starla Larsen-who by the way was a selfish bitch like her mother-and she was really popular and was too wrapped up in being the perfect cheerleader than being Katie's friend. Soon their friendship had demolished and Katie was all alone.
With an alcoholic, guilt-ridden mother she had no one to really turn to except some boy she converses with online. He wants to meet her and take her away from her troubled life. But can she really trust him?
I am stopping there so I don't give anything away. WOW, I was blown away by this book. There were things that happened that I wasn't prepared for. But this author had me on my toes going, "What the bleep?" He wrote a very detailed book that made me feel like I was there. I cried some and laughed some and yelled some. I felt so many emotions at once I wasn't sure what to feel next. I would guess a few times and was taken aback by how wrong I had been. It had a very eerie feel to it but not to the point where I couldn't read it at night. I loved the characters. Taylor and Haley were my favorite....and Colton, who was Haley's boyfriend was such a cutie!!! I loved him. I loved the twin's parents too. They were amazing characters. There were a few times I was confuzzled(confused and puzzled thrown together) when they were having conversations via text. Some of the slang words that were used didn't make sense or maybe I didn't see them right. So I usually skipped over that unless it was valid information that needed to be read. But other than that, I loved this book. I disliked a few of the characters: Beth Lee, Starla Larsen, Mindee Larsen and Moira (forgot her last name). But I highly recommend this book to those that love a little mystery mixed with some horror(not really horror, but there was some ghostly encounters of sorts). This book will keep you hooked, and be surprised by the twists by the end of the book too!
Now I must get ready to read my ARC of Betrayal soon so I can find out more about this story.
I haven't read Olsen's other writing, and I don't read a lot of true crime books, either. However, I do read a lot of YA fiction, and this book just didn't work for me.
I visited Port Gamble earlier this year, and Olsen dropped the ball when it came to setting the scene properly. There's a few asides about the historical property management and how old the houses are, but he never takes the opportunity to give a flat-out description of the town's small scale and quaintness. That's a real shame, because the creepy twists of the story are a good match to the odd New England feel of this Northwest town.
I entertained my boyfriend by reading a few of the last lines of the first several chapters.
Chapter 1: "The spaces among those gathered began to shrink as people pushed forward, completely unaware that someone was watching them. All of them."
Chapter 2: ."No one knew it right then, but someone was about to pick at the scab, and when they did, those who lived in Port Gamble would face fear and consequences they'd never imagined."
Chapter 3: "Neither girl knew it right then, but the night Katelyn Berkley died was the beginning of something that would change everything. Everything. Every. Single. Thing."
Chapter 4:"And finally, not far away, one person got online and started deleting the contents of a file folder marked KATELYN. Inside were copies of emails, messages, and photographs that had meant to trap and hurt her so hard. Each item had been designed as payback. Delete. Delete. Delete."
Chapter 5: "It was because neither her nor her sister had any recollection of what happened that rainy afternoon whatsoever. Not a single one."
No one knew that someone was doing something. Something evil. Something. Evil. That no one knew right then.
It's a silly thing to poke fun at, I know, but it was just so dramatic! And secretive!
Also, there's a few questions I had about the legal issues, when all is said and done. Serious Spoilers follow, of course.
A 15-year-old girl, Katelyn Berkley, is found dead in the bathtub. Was this suicide, an accident, or murder? The identical twins who live next door, Hayley and Taylor Ryan, have some sort of ability to sense paranormal communications and receive messages indicating that there is more to this death than is believed. Soon they believe that Katelyn is communicating with them to help figure out what really happened. NO SPOILERS.
First, let me say that I had no idea that this was YA fiction and, if I had, I would not have requested it. Rarely do authors write teens authentically, and this was definitely the case here. I'm quite familiar with teenagers having spent 12 years with them at a local high school as nurse, librarian, and teacher. I've read several previous books by this author and enjoyed them, so I stuck with it even though I was ready to quit early on. I hoped that the supernatural elements would be played down and it would read more like Nancy Drew, but the actual story was all over the place with some nasty characters and the ending defied even my best ability to suspend disbelief.
I'm sorry that this was not for me and I definitely will not be reading the second in the series -- apologies to Bookouture for asking for the e-book ARC. I do thank NetGalley and Bookouture for granting access to this title but will be more careful with requests in the future.
This book is a YA book and a repackaged version of the book "Envy (Empty Coffin #1)., originally published 10 years ago. It starts out with the tragic death of 15 year old Katelyn, which is deemed a suicide, though no one in her life can determine why she would have done that. Identical twins Hayley and Taylor were friends with Katelyn when they were younger and (along with some of their friends and fellow students), try to seek answers as to what really happened.
On the good side, the mystery is sound and I had a hard time figuring out what really happened until it was revealed. I am also familiar with the Port Gamble, Washington location where the story is located; it's always fun to see places you know depicted in books.
On the less good side, there was a lot going on that didn't really need to be there- another whole mystery involving Hayley and Taylor when they were babies and a ton of internal dialogue from all of the characters in the book, many of them quite shallow. Also, it doesn't appear that anything was updated since the original version so you had things like printed out directions and lack of social media that I would have expected to be modernized.
Overall, a good mystery and an OK overall book, but I wish that Olsen had modernized the re-release. I read the 2nd book in the series too (and liked it better), and am unsure if a 3rd is coming, but if so, I am sure I will read it, especially if it's newly written. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I abandoned this book around 170 pages in. To be fair, it wasn't entirely the book's fault. I currently have way too many books out from the library, so I need to get through books as fast as I can. So if something's not holding my attention, I'm probably not going to finish it.
And this book really didn't hold my attention. This is probably due to the pacing. The mystery was engaging at first, but then the pace slowed to a crawl, and I got bored of it. A lot of the book doesn't consist of the characters working to solve the mystery or developing their relationships with each other or doing much of anything.
Instead, Olsen plugs the book with useless information about its many characters. Because there are a lot of named characters - so many that I had trouble keeping them straight. It probably doesn't help that Olsen insists on giving us their entire background, complete with only one or two useful details, the others being pointless. But when the useful details come up again, Olsen expects us to remember them with no reminder. He even expected us to remember the house number they lived in, for God's sake! Giving us all this information slowed the pace, and it made everything confusing.
You'd think giving us all this information would help the characters feel fleshed out, but it didn't. You see, Olsen has clearly thought out his characters' backgrounds well, but he hasn't considered their personalities at all. None of the characters were particularly interesting or engaging, and I couldn't tell them apart.
Another problem with the pace was the skipping through time that the book presented. And I'm not talking about flashbacks due to Hayley and Taylor's paranormal powers, I'm talking about actual skipping through time in the narrative with no explanation. One of the things I love about murder mysteries is that once the victim is dead, you can't talk to them, you can't figure out why they were dead and how they were feeling right before they died. There's always something that the characters (and you) want to know but can never find out. So if you flash back constantly to when she was alive, it really defeats the purpose.
And then there were the paranormal elements. Why were they here? Seriously. Why. They felt very tacked on and unnecessary. The explanation for what exactly they do are vague and inconsistent, leading me to wonder if Olsen just... made it up as he went along. It didn't help that in the very beginning, we're given a seemingly complete background story for Hayley and Taylor... that doesn't include the paranormal elements. 60 pages in, they're suddenly dropped on us, with no prior foreshadowing. It made me think that Olsen didn't know exactly what he wanted from the story. Well, he needs to make up his mind in order to write something like this.
So, now for some positives. I liked the writing. A lot of people seemed to hate it, but I actually think that was the only major redeemable aspect about this book. It could be kind of cheesy sometimes, and if you have a lower tolerance for rather purple prose, I could see how you might really hate it. But I found it to be a rather guilty pleasure.
I also liked that the world was gritty. Olsen had written mostly for adults before this. In the past, I haven't had great experiences with authors that have done that in terms of how realistically harsh the world is. (See I Am Number Four and Michael Vey Prisoner of Cell 25). But here, it wasn't a problem. In fact, I'm wondering if it might've been a little too gritty. Almost everyone smoked, and there were quite a number of lustful woman. Also, people talked about suicide in a very light manner. People made jokes about it (I firmly believe that this should never be done), and they talked about it as if it was no big deal. But I have to praise Olsen for trying to deal with issues such as suicide, self-harming, and cyberbullying because they need to be dealt with. Even if it didn't work out, I have to praise him for the attempt.
Overall, I can't help compare this to Slide, the only other YA murder mystery I've read. They have a lot in common: both feature an unusually gritty world for YA, both deal with suicide and murder hand in hand, both deal with issues outside of murder and suicide (this had self-harming and cyberbullying; Slide had eating disorders and adultery), and both have only one paranormal element in an otherwise contemporary story.
But where Slide is strong, Envy is weak. Slide's pace moves at a breakneck speed that never lets the mystery get boring; Envy's slow pace makes it too boring to finish. Slide's world always felt real; Envy's was a little too gritty at times. Slide let its characters seem like real people; Envy gave them no characteristics whatsoever. And that's why I think Slide is better than this train-wreck.
Won through Goodreads Giveaway. 2.5 I'm going to split my review into two halves. First the bad: The book starts out horribly; I mean the writing is just atrocious. Each chapter ends with a sentence that is an awful, cliché, badly contrived cliffhanger. It was just gut wrenching to read. I am glad, however, that I made myself continue reading, as the quality improved in the end. My other major complaint: A true crime story does not a mystery make. It was obvious before I looked it up that the author had built his career on true crime novels. This is fine, except you can't make a major, highly publicized case a mystery. Everybody already knows the case you're basing it on and knows how it ends. Even if you do add a twist or two, for 90% of the story, the reader knows exactly where this is going and becomes bored. Now for the good: The paranormal twin aspect was interesting and I wished the writer focused more on that. They were interesting characters, and with the right mystery, the book would have been much more enjoyable. This is why, when the book finally went off on its own, creative tangent I found myself much more drawn in and actually surprised. This more creative turn in the last few chapters won me over and I think I would pick up the second book in the series, though I might be hesitant if it is also 'based on a true story.' The author should have more faith in himself and write his own mystery.
Gregg Olsen’s first Young Adult novel has been re-released under the name Beneath Her Skin.
On Christmas night 15-year-old Katelyn Berkley’s mother finds her dead in the bath, electrocuted with an espresso maker. Her death is ruled as accidental, but Katelyn’s childhood friends, twins Taylor and Hayley, believe it might have been murder. The twins both possess psychic abilities and they try to decipher messages from Katelyn hoping to learn the truth. Katelyn’s death reopens wounds from a tragic accident years before and with a reporter hanging around, as well as someone watching their every move, danger is lurking.
With its excellent plot and brisk pacing, I had difficulty putting this book down between chapters. Beneath Her Skin was such an absorbing read, and I relished every moment. This riveting, dark story is weighty and Gregg Olsen brilliantly weaves the tale of the two sisters. Hayley is a reasoned thinker and has an analytical mind and her twin sister Taylor is very emotional, though they are both intense and their bond is sure-fire. Set in Port Gamble, Washington and with several twists and enough mystery and intrigue to compel me to read late into the night, this was a well-delivered, stellar read.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Bookouture via NetGalley at my request and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
There was a lot of great things about Envy, first and for most this book really made me think. I thought about the story this book itself tells but also thought about how true this could be. Things like what happen in Envy really do actually happen. Everyday. Aside from his fabulous characters I also enjoyed his writing style. It was the first book of his I have read and am considering his adult novels. I'm still really curious and anxious for the next book, but I have no doubts it will be just as good as the first.
Twins have the ability to sense memories using water, objects, dreams and other mediums. They know Katelyn didn't kill herself. Using their skill, they delve deeper, trying to solve their sad friend's death. Katelyn dies in the bathtub- electrocuted when the family espresso machine falls in. Her death is ruled accidental. Though no one can ignore the scares from cutting, the lingering depression, isolation. Taylor and Hayley are determined to find out what really happened.
This gripping thriller is voiced from the perspectives of numerous characters including twins Taylor and Hayley,their best friend Beth Lee and a trouble making reporter called Moira Windsor. The story is set in Port Gamble,a small tight-knit community in Washington,a place where gossip spreads faster than the leaves that are falling from the trees and where most of the residents are quick to pass judgement and voice their opinions on others. It was also a community that was still haunted by a horrifying bus crash almost ten years previously which resulted in five deaths and left many of the families devastated. The residents were a diverse mix of realistic individuals,some likeable,some not so likeable and many who were harbouring secrets. Taylor and Hayley had been on the bus on that fateful day and were two of only three who survived along with another girl named Katelyn.
When Katelyn is found dead in her bath,the twins can't ignore their suspicions that her death was more than just a simple tragic accident and start their own investigation into her death. The thing is that unlike most people, the twins were not just acting on their cut instincts and suspicions,they have actually been blessed or some might say cursed with the ability to communicate with the dead and are certain that Katelyn has been communicating with them from the other side. I thought the twins were fantastic characters,their interactions were very realistic,they even had the odd disagreement,these were typically about Hayley's relationship with Colton. I liked how although they were twins, the author had given them each their own unique individual personalityI loved their interactions with their parents Valerie and Kevin,their dad was a author who wrote crime novels and encouraged his daughter's interests in crime. Their mum was a psychiatric nurse who I couldn't help thinking knew more about her daughter's abilities that she was letting on. Despite how open the couple appeared to be with the teens, it was obvious that they were also keeping secrets from them about events in the past. Secrets that started to be revealed after Moira Windsor appeared on the scene and started poking her nose into the accident and the twins pasts. Thanks to her interference and persistence, Taylor and Hayley find themselves compelled to dig into their pasts and what happened on the day that they almost lost their lives. Was Katlyn's death really a tragic accident? How many residents knew more about her death than they were letting on? What secrets were hiding within the walls of the old houses of Fort Gamble?
This is a very well written,addictive Y/A thriller with a dash of mystery and a sprinkling of the supernatural that has the reader hooked in from the first page. I liked how the author hadn't padded out the story by taking the reader through how the twins discovered their abilities and learned how the utilize them. His cast of characters were a fantastic bunch of believable individuals and I loved the setting for the story with it fascinating background information and history. I really enjoyed this enthralling mystery and look forward to reading many more of Taylor and Hayley's adventures in the future.
Where do I start with this book ? Should I start with that it kept me up late hours of the night? That it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end ? That it gave me some of the biggest chills and some of the biggest surprises I have ever read ? Well how about I just start with that Gregg Olsen has put together an intense story of mystery, envy, thrill, and betrayal.
Envy is about a girl Katelyn, Katelyn was just found by her mother, on christmas...in the tub...lifeless with an electrical machine accompanying her. Katelyn had some troubles in life, and wasn't acting herself latey, so when everyone in the small town of Port Gamble find out Katelyn commited suicide it isn't much of a shock. But for twin sisters Hayley and Taylor, they know something isn't right about this, nothing is adding up, and there gonna find out what really happened to katelyn..they don't think it was suicide at all ..they know someone else was involved. Hayley and Taylor are psychic, and while trying to figure out the truths of what happened to their childhood friend Katelyn..they may stumble upon some secrets about themselves...that maybe they would've liked to have never known..
This book was brilliant! It is one of the first YA True Crime books to be released, so the writing style and everything about it is so different, this was such a fresh, new read. All YA books I feel are the same lately and Gregg totally comes bursting in with something new an exciting to add to the YA world!
The characters in this book I feel the word to use for them is, intense. All of them have very intense personalities. Which I for one loved, this book switches around to a lot of different POVs of people that live in the town of Port Gamble, which was amazing since Gregg Olsen was able to do this perfectly without confusing the reader. You get a feel of each individual character and what they think of Katelyn's 'suicide' and as the book flips around to different peoples POV's the story slowly unfolds what truely happened to Katelyn, but no matter how much you think you may have it figured out..nothing will prepare you for what truely happened to Katelyn and what traumatizing events led to her death.
This is a 2011 release you do not want to miss! If you are looking for something new, something shuddersome, then Envy is the read for you.It will keep you up late at night with the lights on.. it will take you to the edge, and push you right over.
bože ako som bola rada,že je koniec. kniha mala síce dobrý námet,no absolútne ho nevyužila.kniha nemala ani hlavu ani pätu.všetko sa dialo akoby naraz a zároveň aj samostatne.rozprávanie z pohľadu viacerých postáv bolo nesúrodé a nebyť použité mená tak človek ani nevie o koho ide a kedy sa to vlastne udialo.postavy jednoduché,obyčajné bez nejakých výrazných vlastnosti. schopnosti dvojičiek vôbec nedávali v celej knihe zmysel,bez nich by kniha vyznela lepšie,ale však šupneme do knihy trošku nadprirodzená to ničomu neuškodí. námet o šikane mohol byť zaujímavý,len keby mu bol venovaný väčší priestor a nie pár strán na konci. možno by bolo lepšie keby smrť nebola na začiatku ale až na konci,ale to by nemohli byť využité schopnosti dvojičiek a ich snaha všetko vyriešiť. dej bol predvídateľný a miestami to všetko pôsobilo na hlavu postavené. a ten koniec.no krásne som sa na ňom zasmiala =D
I'm sorry I just can't finish this book. It keeps switching back and forth between people so fast that I can't keep up. That's not even the worst part. The worst part is the texting, all abbreviations and symbols. Can teenagers read that? Am I too old to understand it? If in real life someone texted me like that I'd have to stop being their friend. Why be too lazy to write "you" but have enough time to insert symbols into the middle of words. If my brother texted like that I'd shake him.
I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I didn't realize the book was based on a true cyberbullying case until the end. I am not surprised a girl like Starla would use what happened to try to gain her 15 minutes of fame. The worst part is there really are a lot more tees like her as witnessed in the news recently!
The story was great, and this has become one of my new favorite YA series. I loved the characters, and I cannot wait for the next book.
Port Gamble, Washington, is a town filled with secrets; some of them will get you killed. Twins Haley and Taylor Ryan are convinced that their friend Katelyn didn't die by accident and using their "special gifts" they are on the search for the truth. There are twists and turns aplenty and I was engrossed from the beginning.
Let me just start by saying that I can NOT finish this book. This book sounds promising from reading the blurb and I was excited to get into it but I am VERY disappointed.
The plot is mainly a whodunit storyline, that's good, it's a classic and you can hardly imagine anything to go wrong. But that's not the case for Envy. The story is written in various POVs. Actually, there were so many POVs that I've lost count already. Now, various POVs aren't bad, they can actually be very useful if you want to describe how several characters feel about a certain event, but the problem of POVs in Envy is they are too random. In each chapter, which is mostly only three to four pages (short, I know), there were already various POVs appearing. I was left confused after each chapter, and when I tried to recall what I just read, I couldn't. That's just it, the book is too messy and the POVs are all messed up that I am not sure what each chapter's purpose is to the building of the story. Basically, you start with one random character's POVs (I have no idea why some POVs are even necessary), than after a few thoughts and a hell lot of unnecessary descriptions, sometimes followed by a few events, you switched to another character's POV that has nothing to do with the situation of the pervious narrator. It was unexpected, and not in a good way, and I was seriously annoyed by it.
Basically, the plot was supposed to be that the two main characters, Hayley and Taylor, they are twin sisters by the way, trying to solve the murder (or is it a suicide?) of Katelyn, their deceased (ex-)friend. But the story is so poorly written (not the language though, some sentences are great, meaningless, but great) that I am not even sure Hayley and Taylor are the protagonist of the story. The story doesn't focus much on them trying to solve the crime, instead we were treated with jumbles of thoughts of other secondary characters. To put it simply, the story lacks focus. "What are you trying to do?" "Aren't you suppose to talk about how Hayley and Taylor solve the mystery?" are two questions that I often ask after reading chapter after chapter of dragging descriptions and unrelated sub-plots. There are occasionally flash-backs, apparently trying to explain how Katelyn's life became such a mess before she died. They were good additions, but they ended too abruptly, and I thought the flash-backs would resume after a few chapters, maybe a character completing her thought on the event, but NO, we don't such a luxury, instead we were left with endless questions of why the flash-back was necessary and what happened after that.
I read a good (figuratively speaking) half of the book before I decided to stop reading it all together. I usually complete a book no matter how painful it is to continue, but I really can't do it anymore. I was in no mood to pick the book for over a week and I think that's a good enough reason to quit.
So it was said in the beginning of the book that this story was based on a real-life incident, good, so the world-building would be believable since it actually happened. I read half of the book and there were no major problems with the town of Pot Gamble.
What I had problem about, is the paranormal aspect. Hayley and Taylor are supposed to have powers, what kind of powers, I don't know, I can't describe it. It's like a psychic thing, touching, thinking about a person or an object and you can somehow connect with them. And that's the problem, the paranormal powers the twin sisters have are very vague. Is it really too much work to research the name of the power your protagonist has? I just want to know what power is it, I am not even asking for backstories like how did they get the power, I just wanted to know what it is and how it works. Is that too much too ask?
There are many characters in Envy and almost every character has their own POVs, even the anatomist of Katelyn has her own POV, I mean, what's the point of telling me how Katelyn was anatomized? I don't want to know, you just have to tell what the professionals think, is it a murder? Or is it a suicide? You DON'T have to complicate things by giving some no name character a POV, it's annoying to get used to a new POV and this just confuse readers a whole lot.
Also, apparently, the teenagers in this book smoke and drink at age FOURTEEN. I'm 14 and I don't smoke or drink, neither does ANY of my peers. I know it's a somewhat common issue in teenagers right now, but do you really think a 14 year old, someone isn't even in high school yet, would smoke or drink? Where's your common sense!? Sure, there might be cases of it, but the author actually treat it like it's a COMMON thing in the lives of 14-year-olds. Seriously? Dude, do your research!
I am seriously disappointed with Envy and I don't think I would recommend it to my friends, but if you decided to give it a try, good luck and hope you'll have a better experience with this book. My rating for this is obviously a one star, I am sad to have to give such a negative review but I think I have to speak the truth of how I feel about this book.