by Kelley Armstrong
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.
Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.
Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.
I adore Kelley Armstrong but to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Aftermath. The subject matter is upsetting to me, but I received a copy in the mail and decided to try it. I am really glad that I did. While relevant, it takes a look at the families affected by school shooting and shares the friendship between a shooter’s sister and the brother of a victim. Armstrong added a suspenseful thread and sweet romance to the story making it a worthy read.
I went into Aftermath fully expecting to be upset and in desperate need of truffles. While we catch glimpses of the high school shooting the story took on a suspense thriller aspect that made me more comfortable. Armstrong starts the story with the events that occurred the morning of the shooting then fast forwards three years.
The story is told from dual POVS giving us the voice of Skye Gilchrist whose brother Luka was shot and killed three years previously when he and his high school buddies went on a shooting rampage. Skye’s grandmother whisked her away after the shooting, and her life has been anything but smooth. Her mother isn’t well, her Dad altogether dropped out of the picture, and Gran has been her rock. When Gran suffers a stroke, Skye is forced to return home and live with her single aunt. Aftermath shares the first few months of her return with some flashbacks and glimpses into her life before and what went down.
The second perspective comes from Jesse Mandal, whose brother was one of the victims. He was also best friends with Skye and had started thinking of her as something more. Jesse hasn’t done well the past three years. His grades have slipped and was expelled from his former high school for fighting. The only positive in his life is track, and even that is tainted.
Kelley Armstrong fleshed out these likable, funny, sad, snarky, confused characters allowing the reader to experience all of their emotions, fears, and struggles. Mia, Skye’s Aunt, pushed her to return home and is one of those type people who believe in facing the problem head-on. She did allow Skye to choose which local high school to attend. I couldn’t imagine going back to the same high school. Of course, the rumor mill in high school is stronger than ever, and everyone knows who she is. Skye is tough though, or at least her defenses are strong. Her first day was horrible and made worse when she discovers Jesse also attends this school.
The suspense, thriller, mystery thread was a surprise and one I enjoyed. Incidents occur which freak Skye out and place her in danger. It was done in such a way to unnerve her but have those in power suspect that maybe Skye herself has done this to seek attention. Thankfully she reconnects with Jesse, and the two begin to investigate. The mystery was well developed with plenty of twists.
Secondary characters added to the story. I was so glad that the parental figures were level-headed, realistic and present. They made mistakes as most parents do, but listened and were supportive. Armstrong gave us a mix of students, and while some fell into cliche roles, and became suspects, she also showed some positivity too.
I absolutely loved the dynamics of Skye and Jesse’s friendship and seeing it rekindle. We get a nice slow-burning, deliciously awkward romance that made me smile and remember that first love feeling.
Aftermath ended up delivering a surprising suspense thriller in this coming of age novel with characters you’ll relate to and identify with.Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong surprised me as it turned out to be a suspense thriller. A coming of age novel set against a tragedy with characters you'll relate to and identify with. #NewRelease #YA Click To Tweet
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: