February 21, 2016

Review: In Place of Never by Julie Anne Lindsey

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

In Place of Never

*Digital ARC was received from publisher through Netgalley*

Genre: YA (Contemporary, thriller)
Pub. Date: February 2, 2016

Get a copy here!

After 3 years of curling up in pain and grief, Mercy was now ready to come out of her shell and find the answer behind the mystery of her sister's death. Mercy was sure that Faith didn't commit a suicide, despite what the town rumor said about it. Whatever hidden behind the curtain had been stayed too long while her family grieving over the losses of two family members in a row. Now less than a month before she's off to college, before she left her dad and Pru behind to deal with the rest of the physical memories, Mercy was determined to reveal all the truth. Still there were people who looked at her one-sidedly due to her dark way of dealing with grief in the past three years. But nothing could stop her now, especially not now when she got full support from a kind stranger whose family might or might not be related to Faith's death. Cross Lovell and his eccentric group sounded so much like trouble for the town, what with constant accidents that seemed to follow them closely - Faith's case included. Pastor Porter sure didn't want Mercy and her lil sister Pru to have anything to do with them. But sometimes appearance didn't exactly show what's on the inside. Sadness, darkness, or madness that was reflected from ones' outer look would not always show that they actually felt that way.
Since everyone has stories and all people could do is just to guess and not to judge.

It's the first book that I pick after three weeks of no-reading. I was honestly expecting a lighter story to start anew but it's on my January TBR list and I had promised to finish up my Jan TBR before creating one for February so... Yeah. But it's pretty intriguing and the thrill was over the top! Due to my preference of lighter story in the beginning, I started this book with less excitement than I was supposed to. The book started strong with detailed descriptions on how Porter's family went on with their life after the miserable losses. From chapter one only we already got a clear picture on how each of the Porter dealt with the grief. The dad chose to focus more on being a pastor with all his church activities. Pru, the little sister, tried to act nonchalant while trying hard to get everything back to normal in their broken family, whatever the 'normal' means. Mercy herself was shown withdrawn at first until she heard the news of the Lovell group coming back to town; that's when she felt like her determination to reveal the mystery finally got its first direction.

The description of each tension and character's expressions were done very well. Despite my lack of excitement toward the heavy plot, somehow I found this story quite interesting with a very well-played thriller and all. I liked the way the author made the readers keep guessing which culprit behind the case all throughout the story. Ms. Lindsey gave so many clues here and there but never directly pointed out to certain person to be suspected. I was constantly blown away by little revelations that I gave up guessing in the end and decided to just go with the flow.

The only slightly minus point from me was how slow the pace seemed to go on from the second half. The story initially started with a determination of Mercy to find the truth behind Faith's death. Yet somehow in that point things got a little tangled up with Mercy's attraction toward Cross and I personally felt like the progress to unravel the mystery went stagnant there. I really didn't mind their romance because I honestly thought theirs were a perfect un-insta one, unlike most romance in YA books. But a few misplaced romance scenes in this book seemed to overwrite the real issue, causing the ending to be rushed and a little out of nowhere.

I bet Cross character is a lovely one. He's like a warm chocolate covered inside a bottle of vodka. Instead of finding the burning liquor, you'd find warmness instead within him. I liked that he's really honest and never judge people for what they'd done. He's really wise, really. I super loved his one saying to Mercy about their circumstances:
“I’m not broken, not yet. Neither are you. We’re just a little dinged up . Slightly damaged.”
I wished to learn more about him because I don't think he's got enough part in the book due to so many complex issues happening. Here I got something to make you feel gooey inside about Cross, his confession of love for Mercy:

“ I would want you if you were bald.” He dropped a kiss on my temple. “Twice my weight.” He kissed my throat. “Had hairy legs.” One long finger hooked in the waistband of my shorts. “Talked like a trucker.” He kissed my lips. “I fell hard for this.” He laid a palm over my heart. His soulful eyes burned with emotion. “The rest is icing.”
(Awww the rest is icing he said...)

The epilogue wrapped everything up well. I noticed one interesting line there about how Mercy character was described to be a religious person than we thought she was the entire time. Her refusal to belief in such thing as curse and believing in talisman showed her strong faith to God and I personally liked that about her.

In Place of Never is a unique and intriguing title. Inside, you'd find a gripping story on how a family dealt with loss and eventually found closure about it. There's also an issue about how unbiased judgment still going strong among us and how damaging it done to those who's directly impacted by it. Lindsey brought the issue up but luckily she also wrote it in different angle to show that sometimes it's all what's on our mind that matters really, not what's on people's mind.

In 24 chapters, Mercy Porter would take us to a journey of how to come to terms with a broken past with the help of faith and a little love.


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