Don't Venture Too Far into "The Little Woods"

 Title:  The Little Woods
McCormick Templeman
Format:  E-Galley
Length:  336 pages
Publisher:  Random House Children's

Are the woods behind St. Bede's Academy really haunted, or does bad stuff just happen there? When Calista Wood, a new student, arrives midway through her junior year, St. Bede's feels like a normal school . . . until she discovers that a girl had disappeared a couple of months earlier. Some kids think she ran away, others think she was murdered, but it's only when Cally starts digging around that she finds the startling truth.

Watch as Cally enters a world of privilege, weekend-long parties, high school romances, and . . . well-kept secrets. This page-turner will appeal to teens looking for a fast-paced thriller. Written in a voice at once gripping and crystal clear, debut novelist, McCormick Templeman, will take readers on a twisting and turning journey as only a "new girl" can experience.


My Thoughs
This book is another example of a brilliant premise being lost in execution.  The idea of Cally going back to the school that held the secret behind the loss of her sister so many years earlier is enough to tantalize any reader almost to the point of involuntary salivation that would make Pavlov's dogs jealous; but before you go all hungry eyes and run off in search of a copy...there are a few things you should know.

She is the saving grace of this book.  She is a strong smart realist who is trying to make her way in the St. Bede's world without losing herself in the process.  She seems the most solid character in a world that is smoke, mirrors, mysteries and lies.

Clique Click
It is more than understandable that a closed and privileged boarding school like St Bede's is bound to be a breading ground for the cliques that are found within this read.  The problem here is that the scope of this story is so big that the pettiness of the pecking order soon becomes an unnecessary evil that is used to try to fill pages and explain various dead end plot twists.

Questions Questions Questions
Reading this book is like being trapped in a car on a cross-country road trip with a precocious 4 year-old and no in car entertainment.  In short, you know that there are going to be a lot of questions and hardly any answers until one of you falls asleep or you get where you are going.
This story is choc full of all kinds questions, diversions, uncertainties, and red herrings that it becomes tiresome after a while.
Hint:  When attempting to write a mystery, do not make the answer to said mystery painfully obvious to the reader while throwing up smoke screens.

Fun With Dys and Function
It seems as though everything in this book had to have some sort of really f-cked up element,
right down to Cally's love interests.  On the one hand, there is Alex, who by all accounts is Mr. Perfect.  Then there is trouble with him and Cally "hooks up" with the "asexual" ? mark that is Jack!
They seem to have this animal chemistry that make them attack each other in fits of teenaged lust all the time.
Then there is the other "secret love" that Jack has and the fact that  Cally is cheating on Alex with Jack.

And Finally...
The saddest thing of all about this book is that the original unsolved mystery that is Clare takes a backseat to the more recent disappearance of  Iris.  So much time is spent chasing the story that is Iris that what Clare is treated as an afterthought.
My Rating:

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