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Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of the gripping psychological thriller Complicit from Stephanie Kuehn, the William C. Morris Award--winning author of Charm & Strange.

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor's fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she's coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know this one simple truth: She's not the crazy one and never has been.

When reading Complicit, trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award - winning author of Charm & Strange.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published June 24, 2014

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Stephanie Kuehn

15 books460 followers

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5 stars
645 (23%)
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761 (27%)
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108 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 626 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,637 reviews34k followers
November 29, 2014
I was pretty convinced for awhile this was the best YA thriller I'd read in a long time. I still felt that way even after I guessed about a quarter of the way in what the big secret was that's causing Jamie's inexplicable symptoms and the tragedy in his past. It's easy for me to accept vague answers and misdirects if the writing and characterization are exceptionally strong, or if the mood of the book suits the structure.

But once a thriller crosses into a more realistic tone, as this one does with his sister Cate's jarring return, it becomes more difficult to accept the refusal of the characters to ask questions or provide answers. While some of this can be put off to not wanting to face the music, it's pretty frustrating when the entire story hinges upon the reveal of one simple truth. Prolonging a mystery primarily through this technique of inconvenience is one of my biggest pet peeves, and even if I hadn't guessed what was going on, I would've felt annoyed.

I also found the shifting timelines a bit untidy--I expect a story like this to keep me off balance, but not confused so much of the time; I thought Cate's character was both overdrawn and over-explained even though she's withholding so much information; some of the clues felt pretty clumsily ham-handed (I groaned when I saw the title/author of the book that Jamie finds), and most of the characters aren't all that developed, either, including Jamie himself. I also felt an extreme sense of distaste for the temporary shift in the way the story is told during the moment when you find out what actually happened in Jamie's past. It felt like a unnecessary, inelegant shot.

I do think most readers will like that the ending is unconventional and memorable, though it was not unpredictable in my case. I liked the author's previous book CHARM AND STRANGE very much, but this one just felt like both a misfire as a thriller and a missed opportunity as a character sketch and family drama. Still, looks like I'm in the minority on this one, so maybe my crankiness with YA thrillers just continues here. Someone write one that knocks my socks off, please.
Profile Image for ✦❋Arianna✦❋.
790 reviews2,530 followers
June 23, 2015
4 Stars!!

“Complicit” is a dark, messed up intriguing read that will fucked-up with your head and make you question everything you read. It’s a well written YA dark mystery/psychological thriller so you must read it without reading any spoiler-ish reviews.

The narrator here is Jamie Henry a 16 years old boy who as much as he wants to be a ‘normal’ teenager he can’t. He doesn’t want to be associated with his sister Cate. Not because he doesn’t love her, but because ‘Crazy Cate’ like she is called is well...crazy. She was sentenced to juvenile detention for burning someone’s horse barn and now that she’s released she wants to see Jamie. She makes threatening calls and Jamie knows for sure she’s coming after him. Jamie is afraid of her, but he wants to help her like he did in the past. Also, he wants to know the truth about his birth mother’s death, since he doesn’t remember anything about his childhood.

This is all you have to know about Jamie.

“Complicit” was definitely a crazy ride. The story is fast paced with a very gripping storyline and for the most part kept me at the edge of me seat.
I love an unreliable character because it makes me question everything and Jamie was exactly that and more. Beside the fact that he remembers only some aspects of his childhood he also has some memory gasp. You can tell from the beginning that he’s mentally unstable. He’s portrayed very well as a character who suffers from 'some' mental illness. He’s intense and clearly he’s a flawed character, but you can’t help but sympathize with him and like him you will want to know more about ‘his condition’.

Jamie’s sister, Cate was an intriguing character as well. From the beginning you don’t know if she's good or not or what she really wants. She manipulates Jamie, but you don’t know is she wants to hurt him.

The mystery and the suspense are very well done and the twists and turns kept my attention till the end. Even if I guessed the ‘big twist’, which btw it was quite predictable IMO, I really enjoyed the story. The ending just blew my mind. I’m not gonna reveal anything else about the story, because you should experience this read for yourself. So, if you’re looking for a well-paced mystery with an unreliable narrator, intriguing storyline and great writing, look no further and pick this one up.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,355 followers
June 24, 2014

Holy mother of god this book is some kind of messed up! Like, whoa! But it's the kind of disturbing that is really wonderfully brilliant when you turn the last page, sit back and really think about it. It's a story that will make your skin crawl, an ending that made me want to pee myself, and a memorable quality that makes it all unforgettable.

Jamie comes off as someone who is mentally unstable from the very start. Understandably so after learning the tragedy that is his childhood. And like many unsettling narrators, he immediately had me under his spell. I quickly became fascinated by his life, his thoughts, his mysterious condition where his hands go numb anytime he gets too stressed or panicked. I wanted to know his story and all of his secrets the second I met him. I knew, however, that it was not going to be a jolly ride. It would be bleak, possibly bloody, and undoubtedly heartbreaking. Kuehn delivers on all counts.

The problem with reviewing these psychologically fucked up books, is that doing so without spoilers is especially hard. It's the type of story where the less you know going in, the better reading experience you will have. The plot itself is a big mind game; you're made to think up endless theories, accusing every character of being evil and manipulative. The funny thing is, though, is the event in question is not impossible to guess, actually it's quite likely that most will predict what really happened half way through the story, but no matter how much or how little you know - or think you know - the ending is bound to leave you wide-eyed, feeling unsettled and disturbed. It's a terrible ending in every sense, horrifying even, but it's also ingenious. It will make you want to discuss it with everyone you know, and go over every OMG and every What-if and all the possible repercussions for days to come!

The writing is superb. It has just the right amount of suspense and obscurity to make you unable to put it down for even a second. Kuehn also allows for the mystery to unravel at the perfect pace, giving us enough to lead us on the right track, but not letting the waves of dread and paranoia weaken. You will want answers, yet not; you will crave the truth with such fear and uncertainty that you will get high from the thrill of this insanity. This is my second book by Stephanie Kuehn, and both of them will be sticking with me for a long time coming.

They say the truth will set you free, but how deep would you cut to find it?

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,124 followers
June 20, 2014
Find me here:Twitter | Blog

...was pretty much what I felt upon finishing this book.

...was pretty much what I said upon finishing this book.

I first encountered Stephanie Kuehn's work last year with her Charm & Strange, a mystery/psychological heart-rending book that somehow turned my world upside down while reading it. It was a story that was full of pain and anger and sadness, a story that moved me beyond tears. Aside from that, it was also a WTF book. It made me scream internally, my mind going crazy with questions and speculations. How can an author do something like that - make you understand and feel for a character so much while also make you stand on your toes, pace back and forth, wondering what other madness will happen? It was after that book when I felt the author's promise as a brilliant storyteller.

And that was why I anticipated Complicit so much - the knowledge that Stephanie Kuehn already wrote a phenomenal book, and the anticipation whether or not she'll do it again.

Well, news flash - she fricking did. Goodness, if Charm & Strange blew my mind, Complicit exploded it to smithereens.

And I'm not sure I'll be able to repair the pieces back to normal.

Jamie Henry is a normal 16 year old guy. Or so he thinks. What's special about him, however, is that he doesn't remember much about his past. And that he has a sister, Cate Henry, who has been imprisoned for various crimes. And that she's unstable. And that she's coming for him. Now. And he's so afraid and paranoid, and also quite desperate to know about his past, and what she wants to tell him. Only that it may not be the truth he wants to hear.

Let's talk about our main character, Jamie. First thing you'll notice about him is that he has a such a raw and genuine voice. You feel the darkness, the pain, the paranoia, and the anger dripping from the pages, and all of those emotions make this book quite hard to read -- not because it's bad, but because you empathize with him so much to the point your heart tears for him and all you want to do is pat him on the back and whisper it's going to be okay. You can really see how much his sister's presence is haunting him, how the truth keeps chasing him and how he keeps evading it while also wanting to know more.

It's like watching a cha-cha dance. The back and forth, over and over again. But add a lot of sweat, a lot of intensity, and a lot at stake.

And then there's Cate. Cate is like a force to reckon with. She manipulates our hero, taunts him, makes him nervous. And every time, Jamie reacts in an anxious manner, and we see his paranoia increase by the second. The suspense, the air of mystery, the atmosphere, are so well-written; the clues all so well-placed; the truth so near and so far that it will actually kill you and make you afraid. Does that make sense? It's like we know there's going to be a big reveal in the coming pages, a reveal that will ultimately shaken our main character, and knowing what is to come will actually make you afraid. The hero is afraid of the truth, and I become afraid with him (while at the same time super curious already).

Some people will say that the big reveal is quite predictable. And I agree - if you read enough psychological thrillers you'll already have an idea what it could be, but that honestly didn't deter me from enjoying the novel at all. The execution of the climax is so powerful that it sweeps you off your feet. As for me, when I got to that part, I could barely even remember I existed - I was so glued to the book and to the characters that it felt like I was in the story itself.



The ending made the book for me. It was so cruel yet so utterly brilliant at the same time. I couldn't think of anything but that ending for days after I finished the book. It felt like a giant tsunami wall charged at me and swallowed me up - so big and unexpected and you're left powerless against it.

This book is coming out next week. Trust me when I say you need to read this one. IT WON'T DISAPPOINT.

Also, Stephanie Kuehn: I love you. Please, never stop writing.

Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
596 reviews3,588 followers
December 16, 2016
"For every truth best left a lie."

What does it say about a book when you can guess the big twist 12% in?

I'm not a thriller genre veteran, but even I could see the direction it was heading in. A "crazy" sister with a secret, a little brother with a record for amnesia, something bad that happened in the past... If you've read at least one or thrillers in the past, you know what the big secret is.

(Amnesia, next to unreliable narrator, is the queen of thriller plots. You have to do something really grand with it to surprise in this market.)

The main character Jamie is an ass, by the way. Yeah, yeah, he's supposed to be unlikable, but I need to click with a character. And I was not feeling the spark. I hate his insistent whining. I hate his medieval notions on sexual purity. What the fuck does it matter if your girlfriend's been with other guys? But she has about as much mental autonomy as a limp noodle anyway, so what the hell.

Then there's the ridiculous reliance on information-withholding to drive the plot. Every time Jamie is about to find out something Very Important, he passes out or something happens so that the opportunity slips away. It gets irritating after a while.

The dialogue is really stilted, too. Any sense of realism that wasn't stripped away by numerous coincidental incidents was eroded by ominous, cheesy-horror-flick warnings. They sound good in the trailer, but awkward in context. I'm too lazy to dig for quotes, but pay attention to the ending of each chapter, especially toward the end.

Is there anything good? It's a fast read. I was dying to find out the ending, if just to confirm my suspicions. But you're better off with With Malice or Dangerous Girls.

July 1, 2014

Where do I start, I want this be a spoiler-free review! Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn, is the kind of dark read I would have loved during my teenage years! My head would've been clean and clear of all other mind bending reads and I wouldn't have been jaded by all the completely dark stuff I have read. Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there was a dark and deep sense of foreboding the entire time I read it!

Jamie, is in high school and apart from having to deal with the general issues an adolescent normally deals with, he has the dark cloud of what his sister did hanging over him. After his sister, Catie, burned down a horse barn, and was then sentenced to 30 months in juvenile detention, Jamie's life went downhill. The friend that he did have deserted him, he stopped getting invitations, he became the outcast.

Everything takes a turn for the worst, when Catie is released and she starts making threatening calls to Jamie. And that's about all I can say, without spoiling the entire book! The book is told from Jamie's POV, Jamie is a damaged soul, his and Catie's mother died when he was only 6 years old and out of the two of them, he's the worn that handled it the worst. He sees a psychologist to help him deal with it, but he still has problems...

While reading this book I was immediately suspicious of every situation, which is how I always am when reading a mind-fuck. I was on the look out, and I had two theories which started fading into one at about 60% and then became one at 80% and I was correct. Funny enough it didn't take away my enjoyment of the story but what happened from 80% onward was absolutely mind blowing... for me.

Complicit, was an absolutely enjoyable and well thought out mind fuck. This book was good, although I did feel like the ending needed a bit more work because that's just how I am, I like detail.

I'd definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a mind fuck.
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
October 29, 2014
I really don't know how to review this book, guys. It was such a mindfuck that I'm not sure the right words even exist to describe this, but I'll try. It's dark, twisted and strange. On some level, I knew what the twist was -- which is my only criticism -- but the final one at the very, very end? WHOA. What the fuck did I just read?

Unfortunately, I can't really talk about any aspects of this novel without completely giving it away, so you'll just have to read it for yourself. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, unreliable narrators, weird characters, this book is for you.
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
983 reviews749 followers
January 12, 2016
complicit: adj. Having involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or a crime

Complicit is the second novel of Stephanie Kuehn after Charm & Strange (3 stars). Complicit, however, is way crazier than Charm & Strange. By crazier I mean, I can't control my emotions that spiked up eventually during and after reading the book and I can't wrapped up my head on it that I'm still pondering on what the hell just happened. Which I did not experience in Charm & Strange so it's a plus.

Complicit is a character-driven story about 2 siblings, Jamie and Cate who had been adopted by a good couple-- a couple who'd just lost their 2 children. The rest has been unraveled through Jamie, who is a very unreliable narrator, I tell you. These unraveling of the past and the present has been delivered in an intense, confusing and conflicting way. They played with my emotions. They toyed with my heart. They messed with my brain and left me in a mindfuck state.

This book is a page-turner. The story told in short chapters make Complicit so compelling, I can't put the book down. It latches on me, I swear. Even it hid the truth for so long, I don't care because the journey to it is one hell of a ride. Even in the middle part the major plot twist became predictable, it's okay because it had been delivered in a strongly manner. It was all worth the wait, in my opinion.
Profile Image for Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books).
518 reviews345 followers
July 1, 2014
4.5 Stars... really addicting

Jamie has just found out that his older sister has been released from juvie... and now he can't feel his hands. 2 years ago, Cate went away for starting a fire, but now she's out and apparently she wants Jamie to know some things. Like what really happened when their real mother died... and other things that Jamie can't remember.

Jamie and Cate were adopted by a couple after their mom was shot and killed. Cate was outgoing and fun, Jamie had tons of problems. Through the years with therapy, he's been able to get most of his anxiety under control, until Cate returns. Now he's freaking out worse than ever, and he's starting to realize that the only way out is to find out the truth of their past.

My Thoughts:
This is a seriously thrilling, addicting, messed-up, and unsatisfying kind of book. I really enjoyed reading it, and I had to keep reading it until I finished. I have a thing for books that feature teenage boys as the main character. I relate so much better to guys than I do girls most of the time. I'm weird like that. But this main character was written so incredibly well that I felt like I knew him inside and out. Every feeling in this book came across as so genuine.

Jamie is out-of-control scared of his sister, but he also desperately needs information from her, and this basically is what drives the book. He also has a thing about fate and wants to believe it's real, which kind of stems from the circumstances surrounding his mother's death and how his adoptive parents came to want to adopt the 2 siblings. I especially liked all the mystery that the sister brought to the book. Cate was this cryptic enigma of a girl and normally I think that sort of thing would get on my nerves, but in this book it totally worked. The writing is amazing! I've never read a book by this author before, but I love the way she wrote this. The way she describes things, the like, philosophy that goes through the main character's head... it was really brilliant. I wish I could write like that.

The only thing that holds me back from screaming from the rooftops for everyone to read this book is that I had a feeling from the very beginning what was going to be the end result. And I was right. I didn't want to be right. After the "big reveal" happened, I kept waiting for there to be another major twist to tell me I was wrong and that never happened. Also there is no conclusion in this ending. It felt very unsatisfying... creepy, but unsatisfying. And I have a love/hate thing with endings like that. I'll probably like the way this ended a lot better in a few weeks. It's too fresh now and I feel like I need to know MORE!

OVERALL: A book about a boy with psychological problems and his need to find out more about his past in order to overcome them. It's got the whole psychological mystery thing going... and it's a total mindfuck. I recommend this for anyone who is in the mood for spectacular, addictive writing. I just personally wish the ending was more concrete.

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Profile Image for Rose.
1,880 reviews1,065 followers
June 28, 2014
Initial reaction: Word to the wise: the less you know about this book, the better it'll probably seem to you. The writing was very good, and I'll admit I really liked turns of the book where I followed Jamie through his meandering quest to discover his past and navigating the convoluted hints his sister, Cate, drops.

But I have to say that there were things I didn't like about the narrative and places where I think it could've added just a bit more to give it that extra punch for the aim it was going for. Hopefully I can expand upon those points in the review to come. I'll try to make it spoiler free.

Full review:

Disclosure time: I have no idea what to rate this book. Seriously, I just don't, and I'm still at a war with emotions regarding it. I do think Stephanie Kuehn did an awesome thing with the aim with this book and I'll admit I was very, very intrigued by the ending of this considering the events and strides that led up to that point, but there was still something that I thought was missing through the experience when finishing the book.

Upon meditation, I think I know what it was, but before I get to that point - let me establish a few things about this book. I'm going to get what I didn't like about this out because I think that's easier to talk about and make constructive suggestions on where the narrative struggled a bit.

First off, you guys know how I feel about slut shaming. And you know how I feel about character typing when it comes to mental illness. There were instances in this book featuring these two aspects that I didn't really like for the way they were presented.

Jamie's the narrator of this particular tale: he's the perspective character expanding upon the tragedies that he and his sister Cate had to endure growing up. His mother was killed (we're not entirely sure of details except for the muddled memories of the protagonist), but suffice to say, Cate and Jamie ended up with a foster family. Cate is characterized as being this out of control, angry, powerful, coercive, sexual, blunt, and overall domineering presence in her brother's life.

I can get behind that characterization of Cate on the surface if it were portrayed in that way just by its lonesome - she's domineering, intimidating and scares the everloving crud out of our protagonist, especially when the very beginning of this book presents Cate in a "She's BAAAACK!" kind of way. You can tell that Jamie wants to get the heck away from her and that no one told him about his sister's release because they knew it would upset him badly (understatement).

But I was a bit uncomfortable with the fact that Jamie kept fixating on certain things when he described Cate - whether it was the way she dressed or her relationships with guys or things of that nature. Instead of focusing on her possible sketchy wrongdoings and manipulations of people from the get go in concrete examples, it villainizes Cate based on her relationships and appearance in places, and I wasn't here for that - although it's the kind of detail you would miss if you're not looking. Plus, some of the details surrounding Cate's manipulations were vague, including her dabbling in hypnosis among other things that Jamie reveals as the narrative goes onward. The other thing that concerned me was the portrayal of mental illness, which is a huge focus in his book. Jamie has anxiety issues, and his sister is said to have OTT issues, and somehow - to me it felt vaguely portrayed, despite its focus. I'm told a lot of details here, not really shown them and as a result the narrative in places felt removed and overly drawn out instead of keeping me at the helm the whole time where I should've been: in Jamie's head as he witnesses and experiences events, especially with his sister's return.

Long story short, I kind of expected a little more than what I was given, because there were interesting details and even the writing Kuehn does in her sparse, descriptive style is good. When I could get into Jamie's sense of fear and anxiety with Cate's return and her observances of him even in intimate moments, I was hooked. (Ohhh, you should've seen my face when Cate calls Jamie on his cellphone while he's intimate with a girlfriend - that was a scene that had tension cranked from zero to sixty. She certainly pops in at random times to remind him that she's got things to tell him and he's not going to like them very much).

I think at a certain point in the book, a bit past the rough beginning, I started feeling for Jamie's experiences because the emotions started connecting a little more intimately. He's confused, he's scared, doesn't know what's going on - wants to find out what's wrong with him, and he can't win for losing even with all the details that are coming up in his face and he searches (with girlfriend in tow) for clues from past and present relations, friendly or not so much. It's a bit convoluted for journey in places, but the guy genuinely wants to figure out what went on in his past with his mother and what drove his sister over the edge. The answers...aren't what he expects, but as a reader, you can connect the dots if you're really looking for them, and it comes across as obvious once it hits. The reason this didn't go over as well for me in the vein of psychological horror was that I already knew after a certain point what was going to happen for the reveal. The ending, however, still held a certain deliciously creepy edge to it, however, and I think that's what Kuehn was aiming for, but the problem was that the narrative didn't keep a consistent flow for me to really get the full impact of that ending for what it intended, plus issues with the "show not tell" measure. Some intimacies in the narrative were solid (Jamie liking Thelonious Monk? - Score! His respective cognitive issues and his therapist not really vetting them out? Not so much.)

This is my first venture with Kuehn for her narratives, and I'm intrigued in places enough for this to follow more, but I wish this was just a bit better in the journey. The premise was good, the writing had beautiful turns and bit details for characterization, and the ending was solid for emotion. The journey getting there, however? A bit too rough.

But it kept me reading.

Overall score: 3/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews365 followers
July 15, 2014
What was that ending? WHAT WAS THAT ENDING?! %*(@$

I really don't know what to say. I guess I was expecting a mindfuck, and it was a pretty good one in retrospect, but the execution... left something to be desired. God, it's so hard talking about it without giving away anything. Let's just say there must be 50 pages missing from the end because that can't be all.

Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
June 23, 2014
Kuehn's Charm & Strange burst upon my radar like a splash of color, surprising me not only with its vivid portrayal of psychological illness but also with its all-too-real characterization, forcing my heart into the story. Complicit, on the other hand, is far too emotionally jarring. While its premises is fascinating, I felt starkly removed from the novel until the last quarter. Jamie, our protagonist, is battling a sea of problems in Complicit, most notably that his older sister is finally out of jail. Crazy Cate, as his sister is called, is after Jamie with the sole intent that he know the truth; the truth about their dead mother, the truth about their past, and the truth about her crimes. Jamie and Cate are adopted and the journey Jamie undertakes to discover as much as he can about his mother, all while battling the anxiety disorders he lives through, pull at our heartstrings. While the synopsis of this tale makes the plot twist at the end abundantly clear, Jamie's voice is endearing and, as readers, we cannot help but root for him as he rummages for the truth in his memories.

Yet, despite this seeming connection, the bulk of Complicit felt too slow, too dull, and simply couldn't keep my attention. While Charm & Strange had me utterly engrossed, Kuehn's latest found me mentally checking out from time to time, eager to complete this story but lacking the motivation to barrel through. Despite the fact that it's a short novel, it feels long. Nevertheless, that hurdle aside, the ending of this story still manages to be explosive. Like I mentioned before, the synopsis of this novel hints at the reveal towards the end, but though I thought I had it all figured out, the minute details of what I didn't know made all the difference. What's more, the last few pages of this novel are haunting; chilling to the bone. Kuehn never fails to leave her readers with so much to contemplate, digest, and carefully think through. Like any good psychological thriller, Complicit does, eventually, get into your head.

Although Kuehn's latest did not enthrall me to the extent her debut did, it manages to remain a testament to her skill, knowledge, and prowess as a writer of both contemporary fiction and male perspective. I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve next.
Profile Image for Emily (Obsessed Reader).
430 reviews287 followers
May 12, 2015
Excuse me while I try to piece my mind back together because Stephanie Kuehn just BLEW IT TO PIECES.
I'm not going to try to write some well thought-out review because I honestly can't. I don't even know what thoughts I'm having.
This book had me guessing until the end, and I absolutely love that in a book. I haven't read something that had me so physiologically messed up since I read Gone Girl...so obviously, I loved that.
However I'm a little pissed at that ending, hence why it didn't get a full 5 stars from me. After finishing this book I still have no idea what the hell happened. I don't understand the ending and now I'll never know and WHYYYYY.
But you should read it... :)
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews326 followers
May 30, 2017
What a freakishly dark book. I started this book what seems like forever ago, but was only a little over 2 weeks ago, reading one or two chapters a day. The book was pretty slow. So slow in fact I was getting a little bored. I didn't know what was going on or when the actual story was going to happen. But then the ending happened and then what felt like the second ending happened. Stephanie Kuehn can write some crazy shit. I'm giving this book a 3.5 stars, the ending was beyond awesome, but getting to it took some time and kind of felt like forever. Even though I appreciated the pace of finding out the truth, I felt I wasn't getting enough information value to pace ratio.

Complicit is about a boy named Jaime and his sister Cate. They are both witness to the death of their mother when they were very young 5 and 8. They both are adopted by a rich family the Henry's and the story continues from there. This book is insanely twisted and there is no way I would have guessed what the characters were capable of. I thought one thing and then was confused when that wasn't the case. Super vague I know, but there is no way I can tell you about this book without spoiling the plot.

Just know that this is a twisted YA psychological mind bleep and you will not see the true end coming. HOLY HELL what a long, but crazy ride.
Profile Image for Mith.
285 reviews979 followers
March 25, 2014

Disclaimer : If you have not yet read the blurb for this book, DO NOT READ IT - It gives away way, WAY too much information. (But if you are of the kind that believes that it's the journey and not the destination, then go right ahead).

If you've already read the blurb then the mindfuck factor of this book lessens considerably, but the ending will still make you gasp and say "What?! What?!" for about 10 minutes straight.

Recommended for those who like works by Gillian Flynn.
Profile Image for Amanda.
493 reviews59 followers
August 9, 2015
Woah! I just finished this and I need a minute to run through the entire story in my mind again and relate it to what I just read. If you like psychological thrillers, this would be the book for you!
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
July 9, 2016
“There are some dreams you do wake up from, only to find you can't remember them at all. But that doesn't mean these dreams don't matter...
These are dream that hold our most private of truths.
These are the dreams that destinies are made of.” 

Charm and Strange still stand as one of the best psychological thriller I ever read. I held that book as a prime example on how Kuehn’s follow up novel would be.

Complicit is another remarkable story. It’s my certain cup of tea. The elegant, enthralling lyricism, ambiguous characters, and suspenseful course of the plot. It’s the author’s trademark; however, I felt a little bit unconnected with the story. Maybe, it’s because it took me a long time to finish it.

Verdict: I like it, but I’m not in love with it. It’s predictable for me. Though, I would still recommend it to thriller fans who are looking for a gritty novel.
Profile Image for Jen.
941 reviews113 followers
June 16, 2014
4 stars
It's always those psychological thriller books that have me thinking by the end: What did I just read? Did I even understand what I read? Is my brain comprehending this?? (clearly not.)

For real though, Complicit blew my mind. It's a short and exciting read, one that begs to have its pages flipped quickly. The premise is creepy and unlike anything I've ever read--more importantly, it's told from the perspective of a teenage boy. This is the first that I've read from Stephanie Kuehn, but it sure won't be my last.

What I loved the most about Complicit was probably the way the story is told. It's kind of told in a dream-like quality, very atmospheric and eerie. Not only this, but the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present. What the main character Jamie remembers, but perhaps not what actually happened. There's a suspension of time, and I was fascinated throughout because of this. Kuehn's storytelling is outstanding and utterly gripping.

At this point, I'm still kind of blown away by the characters and the somewhat character development. To be honest, I don't have any emotion toward the main characters Jamie and Cate. Do I like them? No… but I don't hate them either. It's more of a feeling of sympathy, or rather, pity. THEIR LIVES ARE SO. MESSED. UP. I think the only thought I can muster up at this point is boy, am I glad I'm not in the same situation as them. I can't even imagine the internal/mental conflicts they have to experience in myself, but Kuehn portrayed it really brilliantly for sure.

Complicit is really addicting and intense--and kinda spooky, but darn good. THAT ENDING THOUGH. Oh, the rage. I have absolutely no idea what happens to Jamie. None. Whatsoever. There's that overlying and continuing mystery, but I need to know. I can't accept not knowing what happens. Sigh.

If you certainly don't mind an ambiguous ending and love an awesome psychological thriller story, do pick this one up. It's mind-blowing and unexpected, and Kuehn's writing style is an added bonus. Definitely not a disappointment!

Check out this review and more at Books and Other Happy Ever Afters
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,552 reviews903 followers
July 18, 2014
Initial thoughts:

LOVED it. Definitely some similarities to Charm and Strange -- narrated by a teenage boy who has some issues, plus an overall creepy vibe. But Stephanie Kuehn is officially on my auto-buy list :)

And I agree with what others have said: better not to read that blurb before going in. The less you know, the better.

Official thoughts:

If you read Stephanie Kuehn's debut novel, Charm and Strange, you know that she's a talented writer who is a master at creating a creepy and suspenseful mood and keeping readers guessing until the very last page. Like like Charm and Strange, Complicit is narrated by a teenage boy who has some stuff to deal with, for lack of a better explanation. Jamie is still suffering the consequences of his tough childhood. He's since been adopted by a well-off and well-meaning couple whose own children died. Jamie's a shaky, vulnerable mess, barely holding it together and just trying to get through every day. Then he gets the news: his scary sister Cate is baaaaaack.

Jamie was such a sympathetic character -- he works hard to control all his fears and anxieties. Anxiety is an exhausting thing, and I really felt his inner struggle.

That's all I want to say about the plot. In order to preserve suspense, I'll just turn to the general things I love about the book.

The writing
I love Stephanie Kuehn's writing. You read the first few sentences of her books and just know that you can relax, that you're in talented and confident hands. She does the whole "teenage guy against the world" POV that I've loved from Holden Caulfield on and does it really well.

The suspense
To me, good suspense writing is all about understatement, and this book is a fantastic example of that. The best writers are subtle and cleverly get you to scare yourself. As I was reading, I was just wriggling in my chair, not even knowing what to be afraid of...

The twists and turns
I did guess some of these, but I wasn't sure if I was right or not, right up until the end.

If you love suspenseful books, books that mess with your mind and make you question what you think is going on, definitely put Complicit on your list!
Profile Image for Mónica BQ.
776 reviews119 followers
January 15, 2016
It makes me very very fucking happy when YA's are written like this. When teenagers are not underestimated. When young readers are valued by the authors as smart and experienced people. When they don't try and protect teens from things that teens most likely already know. I like authors that respect their audience.

And so I loved loved loved this absolute mind fuck of a book. The MC's are unlikeable and cruel and manipulative and so so very much human.

Only a couple of things kept this from being a 5 star read. I was left with a few questions and I think there's one error in continuity, but it's all minor things.

Although I guessed the plot twist from almost the beginning and I suspect a lot of people did and will too, it doesn't take away from the exploration of a disturbed and hurt mind. And it doesn't take away from the feelings it evokes in the reader that empathises with the MC's.

I've read some reviews from people who didn't like the ending. And while I understand them, I actually thought the ending was brilliant. It was consistent with how devastatingly wrong the whole situation was during the entirety of the book. It was real.

Because life doesn't resolve itself with confessions. Neither does guilt. Sometimes being complicit is a life-time burden. And sometimes, it should be.
Profile Image for Rayne.
862 reviews288 followers
April 16, 2014
Complicit is an intense, clever, disturbing and thrilling ride that's brilliantly written and has one of the best endings I've read in quite a while. It takes a while to pick up and spends quite a lot of time in the romance, which are basically the only reasons why I gave it 4 stars, but everything else about this book is done amazingly well. What impressed me the most about this book is that Kuehn is so clever with her writing that, while you might see some things coming, she prepared in anticipation of that and delivered even more startling plot twists and surprises piled on top of the big reveal of the book, and even if you see everything coming, the book is incredibly easy to get lost in. This book is twisty, unsettling and intensely psychological. I definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Bailey.
104 reviews57 followers
February 8, 2017
You can only feel bad for so long when someone else's pain is hurting you, too.

Complicit was a mind boggling book that was not only gripping, but also a heartbreaking and amazingly executed novel. I imagine that the less you know of the story, the more you will love it and find it hopefully intriguing. So, I will try to keep that in mind while I review Kuehn's masterpiece.

Jamie Henry has had a tough life. This doesn't mean that he's had a few ups and downs, but that he lived in a horrible neighborhood where his mother was shot while both he and his sister, Cate, were at home. At the age of six he was ripped from his house and life so that he could be placed with a new, privileged family whose own two biological children died. As replacements, Cate thrived in this new environment while Jamie suffered. However, with time and a new psychiatrist to aid him, Jamie eventually learned to cope and get better, enabling him to live his life comfortably. Strangely, with time, Cate turned into someone else. She played mind games, took drugs, and ran around town like she owned the place. Then, she was taken away for the unthinkable, burning down the local horse barn. It was in this accident that a girl was caught in the fire, Sarah, who owned one of the horses residing in the barn. Sarah was Scooter's, Jamie's best friend's, girlfriend. After Cate was given her sentence, Scooter abandoned Jamie, leaving him lonely and desolate.

Now, Cate's out of confinement and ready to come after her brother. Jamie has no idea what she wants. He only knows that he's scared to death of her and whatever she's coming to do. His life's looking up, and he can't let it fall apart. Jamie's a skillful pianist, recently got a gem of a girlfriend, and is at the top of his class. What more could he possibly desire? Then it comes gnawing at him. Answers. Cate keeps calling him, badgering him, threatening him about how he needs to know. Jamie's confused. What must he know? He can't remember anything before he was six years old. His memory is locked up tight. Jamie's only recollection of his childhood is the sweet, sweet smell of cigarettes that surrounded his mother and her long, dark hair. With Cate lurking around, he reverses and reverts to old habits from his young and faraway past. He's anxious, agitated, and paranoid. He once had a well known habit that included him ripping out his eyebrows, an action that's now returned. The oddest thing of all is that, when he's overcome by extreme emotion, his hands go numb and he loses all feeling and function in them. Cate's creeping closer, menacing and cold. What does she mean to do, and why do all of these things keep happening to Jamie? Will he ever finds the answers that will finally put to rest the questions driving him, pushing him around, trying to escape, or will he be doomed to a life of hidden truths, truths that Cate's not supposed to tell?

I love psychological thrillers, and this is such an excellent reason why I do. Kuehn writes a story that takes you through time with a constant swing from Jamie's present to his past and back again, time and time again throughout the entirety of her novel. Jamie's life is so damaged, a broken story that is so heart wrenching and initially shattered to pieces. The issues surrounding his hands and their numbness is a very intriguing part of the book. No doctor has been able to figure out the reason behind it or what disease it could be attached to. His diagnosis falls flat of everything they know or can even understand. However, I found it very strange that Cate knew what diagnosis he should be given or at least was familiar with it.

Cate and Jamie's relationship is truly unique and such an interesting aspect in Complicit to see unfold. The two by themselves are unique alone. Whenever Cate calls Jamie, she's nice to her little brother one minute and then suddenly enraged towards him the next. Her past, which I won't spoil here, is unlike any other I've read about. She's a true enigma. Jamie himself is interested in the subject of fate and all that it means. Even though this is interesting, I felt that it could have been elaborated on more in the book. It seemed almost a slight background fact that could have been more. Both characters have a mental instability that will leave you wanting more and more from them.

This story was beautifully written from Jamie's very own point of view. His story was powerfully explored and supported by his strong presence. Whenever he was upset, I found myself upset as well. When he was frustrated at Cate, I was frustrated with Cate to the point where I wanted to throw something. Jamie's the character that's fun to see inside of, a person whose world is so different from your own that you can't help but want to know more. Every chapter was relatively short. This added to the initial suspense of the novel. I was able to read this book within the capacity of two days, and that's not because it was only 250 pages. It's because I was so invested in the story that I never wanted to put it down.

I'm sure that many people will be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Cate and Jamie's life before it is revealed at the end of Complicit. However, I found the ending just as great despite this. Everything was revealed and laid out at just the right moment. I must say that, even though I knew how some of the story had to end, I didn't expect the conclusion to play out like it did. At the end I myself was left broken and full of sorrow. Kuehn wrote with an insanity and complexity, so much so that I was frozen at the end. Rereading the last chapter over and over again. My wheels are still turning from the aftereffect of this book. I don't know how to get over it.

There are some dreams you can't wake up from.
These are called nightmares.

-Jamie Henry

You can see reviews like this one and more at http://knightingalereviews.blogspot.com/.
Profile Image for Jen La Duca.
156 reviews47 followers
April 8, 2016
My So-Called Review

When I read a book and absolutely fall in love with it, I’m one of those that will then run to Amazon and purchase every book by the same author. Such is the case with Stephanie Kuehn; I recently read Charm and Strange and loved it so much I immediately bought the rest of her books. The moment they arrived I dove right in and started reading Complicit and finished it within 24 hours. I loved Charm and Strange so I knew that Complicit had a lot to live up to but luckily I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I think I loved Complicit even more than Charm and Strange which I wouldn’t have thought possible!

Jamie Henry and his sister, Cate, come from a very sad upbringing. When they were young, Henry and Cate witnessed the violent murder of their mother. Both children were left with emotional scars from their childhood but luckily they we’re adopted by a loving couple who’d lost their own children. Jamie has very few memories of his life with their mother and no memory of the night she died. Jamie also suffers from a loss of feeling in his hands during stressful situations and has even suffered blackouts. Cate initially adjusted well to their adopted life but as she grew older she went from being the “good girl” to severely acting out, eventually setting fire to a neighbor’s horse barn and seriously injuring someone.

Several years have gone by and Jamie is finally in a good place with his life; he’s doing well in school, started dating a really sweet girl, and gets along well with his adopted parents. Then he finds out Cate is being released from the juvenile detention center and suddenly his world begins crashing around him. He begins getting strange, cryptic phone calls from Cate which makes Jamie think she really is crazy. He doesn’t want to let her back into his life but a part of him does want to hear what she has to say because Cate is suddenly promising to tell him the truth about their past, a past that Jamie’s never been able to remember.

Oh boy, this book really snuck up on me! It didn’t take long for me to figure out one of the plot points, in fact I thought it was pretty obvious what was going on and how it all would end. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel though, it usually doesn’t when I figure out the ending early on because I still like to see it all play out. I’ve now come to believe that Kuehn is a mastermind when it comes to storytelling and the art of the mind fuck because what I thought I’d so easily figured out turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg! This was seriously one of the craziest endings I’ve ever read, just when I thought my mind couldn’t be blown anymore another bomb would get dropped, and I loved every second of it!! I wonder now if Kuehn wrote the first plot point to be slightly obvious on purpose, luring her readers into a false sense of “I’ve got this all figured out” so that when the truth finally gets revealed we’re completely blindsided. I don’t know but I think she’s brilliant and I’d love to ask her :)

Complicit is one hell of a psychological thriller and houses one of the most complex, creepy and original characters I’ve ever read about. Once all the bits started coming together I was literally on the edge of my seat and didn’t move a muscle until I’d finished the book. I couldn’t believe what I was reading; the brilliance of how Kuehn strung it all together was amazing! I actually had to go back and re-read a few chapters just to make sure what I read was really what I read. Wow, does that last sentence even make sense? Probably not, but if you read this book you’ll totally understand what I’m saying ;) So please, if you love psychological thrillers then read this book! If you pride yourself on being one of those readers who always figures out the plot twist before the author wants you to, then read this book! Stephanie Kuehn is quickly becoming my new favorite author and I can't wait to read her books for years to come!This review was originally posted on My So-Called Book Reviews

Profile Image for Clementine.
285 reviews148 followers
March 10, 2018
I read the author's bio and my jaw hit the floor. I cannot believe a psych clinician could write such a book. Here I was listing all the books which did it wrong, being sensationalist instead of sensitive. Apparently, even some of us do it and I cannot even express how outraged and disgusted I feel.

Mental illness is used here as a thriller catalyst. The main character has pulling syndrome in answer to his past trauma. For those who aren't familiar with the syndrome, patients usually pull their hair out in reaction to stressful situations. Because of the compulsion behind the pulling, it's usually associated with obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. In childhood, it usually disappears on its own. In the novel, Jamie grew up with the disorder, going back to it whenever he is in dire stress. All of this is good and dandy. However, repeatedly in the novel, his interaction with his love interest is describing as saving him. His disorder goes away on its own just by being with his love interest. This is not how it works. You think married people or people in couples don't have mental illness? What is this, seriously? It undermines the very work we do with our patients. Stating that love cures all is bullshit and romanticizes mental illness in a way that makes my blood boil. And it should outrage us all. There is no magic/disney-like cures to mental illness because it's a real illness and just as any real medical illness, it needs appropriate treatment. Not a fucking prince or princess charming.

If the the love angle of the story wasn't even anger infusing, Jamie is a disgusting pig who states that her sister should not have sexual intercourses the way she wants. She should preserve her virginity or settle for one guy. Otherwise she is a slut. Unstable. And this is written with the intention of showing Jamie in a good light; 'Come on! What a good guy he is for caring about his sister's honour/flower!' Hell no. Her way of dressing or her way of exploring her sexuality is no one's business but her own. Passages such as this:

"I especially hated that her honor was something she didn't even bother to value in the first place."

are especially damaging as Jamie is painted as a saint because he's keeping himself for the "right one". His girlfriend for being a "good girl" is also portrayed as "different from the other girls" and "pure". Sleeping with someone doesn't make you "dirty" nor does it mean you don't value your "honour". If you consider honour is between your legs like some century-old sexist misogynist pig , then you should look up the meaning of the word. The slutshaming game was strong in the book and for this reason I never considered giving it more than a few stars. The mental illness and the ending just dunked the whole thing.

The book rests on silly and unbelievable premises on top of being built around insensitive and hurtful comments on girls' body and choices, and mental illness being only good for thrillers. This is why it took me a while to come back to this book to review it. I could not get over the fact that this was written by a woman who does what I do, who most certainly loves her profession. Just as I do.
Profile Image for Jo.
1,139 reviews61 followers
June 1, 2014
I think I would have enjoyed this more had I not read the description of what the book was about. I sort of knew what was going to happen, and that took the wind out of the sails a bit. It was an edge of your seat thriller, but didn't sacrifice character for plot. Jaimie is a great protagonist, and I love that it is from his POV. I did, however, think there was too much foul language. I know I'm old fashioned, but it felt like the words were written just to be edgy. It came across as vulgar for no reason. I also felt the ending was really abrupt, but it was brilliant the way Kuehn ended it. I think this will really find a strong audience, but the blurb needs to be rewritten so it doesn't give away the great ending.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews546 followers
June 6, 2015
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: An almost psychological thriller type read about two siblings who are so much more than they first appear to be.

Opening Sentence: My phone is ringing.

The Review:

My first impression of Complicit was that it wasn’t as good as the other books about mental issues I’ve read of late. This is probably unfair given that I have read some pretty awesome books such as Bone Gap and Alice and the Fly, so it’s unfortunate for Complicit that the bar had already been set so high. Nonetheless, I think a book about mental issues, especially when told in the first person, needs to be fantastic. Since it is an incredibly difficult topic, only the best should attempt it.

At the beginning, it seemed like the author was trying too hard to portray Jamie’s mental problems, making them come across unreal. His general timidity and shyness bordered on irritating, especially because he had this passive attitude to life where he tried to keep everyone happy by lying.

“Hear what, Mom?” I ask. I call Angie Mom because that’s what she likes and because it’s so rarely the thought that counts. That’s dishonest on my part, I know, but if I had to pick one quality to define me, it’s this-I can’t stand to hurt other people’s feelings. Not saying what I mean is sometimes the best way I know how to be kind.

However, as the story continued I realised there’s a lot more going on with Jamie than meets the eye. In fact, it became more of a psychological thriller than someone who has a conversion disorder. The chapters became more thrilling, creepier and confusing.

I try smiling back but it’s weird. Sometimes the things Jenny says are so nice they can make me feel sad. Like right now. It’s my own personal paradox I guess-either my brain doesn’t know how to be happy or my heart doesn’t know how to let me.

Cate’s character was excellently developed. I would have liked to see more of her in the book, rather than hearing of her from others, most of which was untrue or partially true, which is usually worse. What I loved most about this book is that no one is who they seem, the suspense and secrets brought the story to life.

Another character I wished we learned more of was Angie because I didn’t quite understand her role in it all. Angie’s own twins died hence why she adopted Jamie and Cate, and although Cate mentioned Angie getting very upset when she spoke of her real mother and hiding her mother’s pictures and memories, I didn’t see Angie making a huge effort in Jamie’s life anyway. Plus, she kind of left Cate to rot in prison, which doesn’t indicate her motherly love…Was she suffering from denial because of the loss of her own children?

This was one of those books that deliberately confused the reader. In some ways that’s good, because it gave the feel of a complete mess, which is what Jamie’s mind is, but on the other hand there were times when it felt a little too forced and unbelievable. The story was really good but as aforesaid it didn’t live up to the high expectations that the recent books on mental illnesses have set.

P.S. The ending was pretty cool (no spoilers)!

Notable Scene:

Oh, oh, oh. I lost it them. I couldn’t help it. I put my head against my knees, curled up like a pill bug, and wept. For this sorrowful scrap of fate I’d been born into. For my mom whom I’d barely known, but who might’ve died in some horrible way I no longer understood.

But most of all, for my sister who was doing God knows what and heading down a similar path of self-destruction.

FTC Advisory: St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Complicit. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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