Book review · contemporary · Young adult

Review: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

9780803739260_NearlyGone_JKT.inddA Line in the Dark is the first contemporary mystery I’ve ever loved.

It’s a story about unhealthy friendships and relationships between three teenage girls, all three of them queer.

The narrator is Jess Wong. She’s Chinese-American, she has always loved art, and she’s in love with her best friend Angie. This crush is unrequited, and that becomes even more clear when popular, beautiful Margot starts flirting with Angie. But Margot and her rich friends are not good news – under the money and the pretty faces there are many secrets.
Not the ideal situation, but guess what – it gets worse.

I really liked Jess. She struggles to fit in, and she’s not flawless. I love reading about contemporary characters who are flawed and somewhat unreliable narrators. They feel real to me.
All the side characters were memorable. Characters like Margot are fascinating and a bit scary, and Angie surprised me too. Everyone stood out to me.

Mystery/Thriller books with queer characters are not common, and A Line in the Dark is a mystery in which there are more than two lesbians, and none of them dies.

It’s noteworthy that I never had to force myself to read this. I was never bored. And that rarely happens to me with contemporary books.

Half of this book is told in first person and feels like a dark contemporary, the other half is in third person present and it’s a thriller. Surprisingly, this didn’t bother me. Maybe because I knew it was coming, maybe because I was really invested in the story, I don’t know. But I think this PoV shift made sense.

However, I don’t think the execution of the mystery aspect was perfect. The ending was unsatisfying, and it should have been longer. You shouldn’t sacrifice the ending just because you want to shock the reader – that felt messy.

My rating: ★★★★¾

What are your favorite YA thrillers?

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