I did a buddy read of A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo in February, and ended up reading the whole book in one day on the 17th. Since V was born it had been a long time since I’d had the time and the inclination to do that, which if you’ve ever had an infant should tell you a lot about my enjoyment of this book.
Female friendships are fucked up. I think almost every woman has a story of a relationship that was more complicated than they can explain – maybe there is a romantic dynamic, a weird powerful jealousy or sense of competition, an intense secret world that you build with another person and you feel threatened when someone else infringes on it. That’s this book. While most of those experiences don’t involve murder, I think we need more of these stories.
I’m going to clarify that while we need more stories with this dyamic, this is also written to be a thriller and I think a good example of a toxic friendship, as well as a very toxic romantic relationship.
Because I have to start by saying that I think everything is Margot’s fault. Girl is a big old c-word. She is incredibly controlling of her friends and Angie as her girlfriend. While I do think Jess gets a little petulant because of her feelings about Angie, most of her anger and concern are valid. The novel is also a good example of how very difficult it is to tell our friend they are in an abusive relationship – because we still struggle to accept that being excessively controlling and causing a partner to feel guilt is abuse – no physical harm necessary. Margot’s actions towards others initiated this chain of events and even though the end really surprised me, I still blame her and she’s definitely either an all caps K on the Teen Creeps scale, if not into full on Vera territory.
This book is a solid thriller with an emotional punch. Jess is a good character in that you understand her and are also frustrated by her. You definitely doubt her and find yourself believing she’s capable of murder.
I gave this 4 stars because I wanted more and I felt like something was missing, but I would definitely recommend it. I hope Malinda Lo writes more teen thrillers because this is so well done. It’s solidly YA, versus being an adult thriller written about teenage girls. That’s an important distinction and a hard thing to shape, and shape well.