I received this book from Net Galley.
After reading Jane Casey’s The Kill, I was curious about Hide and Seek. I wondered how her writing skills would translate into writing YA, so I was eager to read this book, and I really liked it. I thought it was engaging, with a cool mystery and a good twist. The interweaving of the secondary characters and their relationships really made the story robust.
The book is set in England. Jess Tennant is a teen. I’m not entirely sure how old she is, but I’m guessing seventeen or so. She’s living with her mom and her aunt and uncle. In a previous book, her parents apparently divorced and they moved back to her mother’s home town. Jess is really happy, especially because her mother is happy. So the fact that her father has moved to town to get back together with her mom worries her. Her father is portrayed as selfish and he cheated on his wife, as well as demoralized and attacked her sense of worth. In other words, he’s not been a great dad or husband, and Jess doesn’t want anything to do with him.
A complicating factor to all of this is that her mom and a local police detective were teenage sweethearts. They had some sort of difficult breakup years before that led both to unhappy marriages. Now both his wife and her ex-husband suspect that they are getting together again. They aren’t the only ones. This is a complication for Jess, who is dating the policeman’s son. She and Will are deeply in love, but have a tendency to argue and fight. He’s been away at school and has just returned for the Christmas holiday.
The story begins with Jess at a party. At that party, Gilly, a schoolmate, seems to have been cornered by some other girls who are trying to get her to talk about something. Pretty quick, Jess tries to step in. Gilly ends up breaking a glass and deliberately cutting herself, even as several people around her make curious comments.
Later that week in school. Jess’s history teacher is making a project assignment and oddly, Gilly refuses to work with her assigned partner. Jess–who has nosy detective sorts of tendency–is instantly curious, especially after the weekend party. She ends up assigned to work with Gilly. Despite asking several questions, Jess is no closer to finding out what’s going on. She makes plans to meet with Gilly later in the week to work on their assignment. Gilly never shows up.
The rest of the book focuses on the hunt to find Gilly. Did she run away? Was she killed? Kidnapped? There are a variety of possibilities and Jess is determined to find out what happened. On the way, she has to deal with her boyfriend’s police detective father, her own father, and the drama of her own life. She’s caught up in trying to decide who she is, who she wants to be, and whether or not she should follow the rules.
The mystery in the book was really good, as was the interweaving of Jess’s personal life. I thought some of the backstory could have used a little more bolstering. I know there are a couple books earlier in the series and I felt that reading them first would have made this book a lot better, especially understanding the relationships between the major and secondary characters. I also was a little confused on Jess’s relationship to her cousins, particularly Hugh. At times she describes him as if he’s threatening, and yet she loves him and seems to feel she has a really great relationship with him. I found that confusing.
Another thing I found confusing was the relationship she had with Will. That could have used a little bit more from previous books, too. It made sense going deeper in, but at the beginning, I wasn’t sure what sort of relationship they really had. At first they are totally in love, but then he turns angry and cold and dismissive. It’s very hot and cold for reasons I can’t see, possibly because the foundation is laid in earlier books.
Another thing I found odd was that the adults didn’t seem to mind Jess’ and Will’s pdas. Especially later on when it’s happening at night. There simply was no comment and no interest in what they were up to, and I found that odd. Especially given the foundation of unwanted pregnancy, it seems odd that only Will’s father says anything at all.
Despite those minor drawbacks, I enjoyed the story a lot. I figured out what had happened pretty quick, but I didn’t see the twist coming, and I was surprised by Jess’ father at the end. I’d like to read the earlier books in the series. Jane Casey is a hell of a writer and I definitely recommend the book.