Ripped From the Headlines YA Style: With Malice by Eileen Cook

It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life. 

Source: GoodReads

With Malice is pretty much a modified version of the Amanda Knox storyline fictionalized.   Oh, and rather than being college students that are studying abroad the cast is full of high school students.

I usually don’t read a lot of crime stories. Which is sort of weird, because growing up I was all about Mary Higgins Clark suspense novels/mysteries. I think that’s one of the reasons I decided to go into law, Clark’s books.   Only thing is, if you ever have the displeasure pleasure of taking a criminal law class you’ll find yourself not believing in humanity anymore and wondering why your prof thought it was necessary to include a sparkly thong in your final’s fact pattern.

I digress.

Though, the sparkly thong bit is totally true.

The thing is I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it’s not something I would normally read but I liked how realistic it felt. I never truly felt like I knew the full truth, and if the revelation towards the end of the book was true—well, my feelings for the murderer are complicated. I understood their motives, but yeah still thought that they should face justice.

Anyway, the plot was the best part of this book. Like I said it was a page turner and you didn’t know what to quite think of the ending.

The characters I have more of an issue with. Despite being in her head for most of the novel, I still didn’t have a clear idea of who Jill was. I mean, maybe that was the point. I think I was supposed to have an ambiguous idea of this character but I really don’t know what to make of it.   As for Simone, her characterization seemed pretty one dimensional—the jealous bestie.

The love interest is not even worth talking about.

I guess at its core, With Malice is a good mystery. While the characterization might be sorely lacking throughout the book, the plot kept me engaged. If you liked ripped from the headlines stories this one might be for you.

Overall Rating: A B.


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