#YAReview: Ready or Not by Tracy Darnton

Cover image by Ardalan Hamedani on Unsplash, published by Little Tiger Group, May 2022

I requested this book from Little Tiger Press when I saw the publicity material which compared it to one of my favourite ever YA novels, We Were Liars by E Lockhart, and it is certainly likely to appeal to fans of that title. The plot revolves around a group of privileged teenagers, and their final carefree summer holiday at the idyllic and luxurious summer home owned by one of their sets of parents. The story is narrated by the youngest of the group, fifteen-year-old Millie, who is trying to piece together the clues around a mysterious disappearance the previous summer. The story shifts backwards and forwards between 2018 and 2019, which combined with the unreliable narration, leaves the reader grasping for clues in the different characters’ perspectives of the fateful game of hide-and-seek which sparks the mystery.

Author, Tracy Darnton, shows her mastery of this genre, gradually releasing insights into the seething tensions festering below the carefree holiday facade. For beneath the surface of three university friends, who have been holidaying with their children year after year and assuming that the children will be great friends, we are given a glimpse into the simmering distrust sown by a narcissist amongst the children. When the gathering for the final summer holiday is further thrown into imbalance by a marital break-up and the appearance of new partners, the civilised surface shatters; beautiful but flawed Kat disappears; and three families are left broken.

Millie, who idolised Kat, is determined to get answers about what happened after the final game of hide and seek. She insists that the remaining teenagers: Charlie (Kat’s twin), and brother and sister Matt and Jem, should meet one last time at the Cornwall house before it is sold. Her memories, combined with the letters that her therapist has suggested she should write, gradually reveal fragments of the truth. With an excellent final twist, this is a book which will appeal to fans of the contemporary mystery genre. Suitable for readers of 14/15+.

I am grateful to Little Tiger for sending me a copy of Ready or Not in return for my honest review.

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