When Elle’s father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don’t go away, and, soon, despite her father’s caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she’s losing her mind. She knows she’s being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there’s Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn’t recognize her – until the day he divulges just how much danger she’s in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad’s real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who’s following her now.
Deceived is a chilling, suspenseful read. I was drawn in from the first scene by Elle’s recurring nightmare and the paranoia associated with it and immediately wanted to know more. The mystery was easily the best part of this book: there were so many small things that just didn’t add up, causing both Elle and the reader to question everyone and everything. I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold, though the big reveal didn’t faze me because I had figured everything out partway through the book.
For the majority of the book, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about Elle. She’s a strong and determined, and I liked how she was willing to find her own answers when something didn’t seem right. For someone who has reasons to be paranoid, she made some pretty poor decisions, so there were many times when I wanted to shake her and tell her to get her priorities straight.
I’m not fan of instalove in any book, and the romance in Deceived is no exception. It happened far too quickly, and didn’t make too much sense given the context of the story. When a girl is questioning the motives of everyone she meets, you would think she’d have bigger issues than boys, right? Unfortunately not. At the 30% point, Elle entertains the idea that the boy that she’s in love with – who she had just met, mind you – might be following her and might be a serial killer. That thought would make me run the other way as quickly as I could, but to each his own, I guess.
As Elle learns more about this mysterious boy, the story begins to pick up the pace once again. A lot more questions are raised and lead up to some fairly intense scenes, though they don’t quite make up for the way that the plot dragged on in the middle portions of the book.
Overall, Deceived was a pretty enjoyable read filled with mystery and intrigue. If it weren’t for the inconsistent pacing and the fact that I somehow became a super sleuth overnight, I would have been hooked.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Merit Press in exchange for an honest review.