As you can probably tell: This is a retelling of The Amanda Knox case. It says inspired by the events of the case, but this is more than an inspiration... this is Amanda Knox in Buenos Aires.
When I saw that this book was based on the Amanda Knox story, I was immediately interested. I followed that case pretty closely and I'm extremely intrigued by true-crime in general. I love shows like Dateline and 48 Hours, and I used to read true-crime books all the time (before YA took over my life). I thought this would be an awesome mix of 2 things I am really interested in. And it was... it just wasn't original enough for my liking.
When I think a book is going to be inspired by certain events or based on certain things that have really happened, I expect it to be just that: inspired by while also having original parts of the story as well. This book definitely pushed the lines of what I would call "original". It was basically the exact Amanda Knox case with VERY SMALL changes. Like names, location, and a few liberties taken in the details of the relationships, but not much else.
This book is written from a lot of different viewpoints. At first it is Lily's father who is flying to Buenos Aires after Lily is arrested to attempt to help her however he can. Later on we hear from Lily, Sebastian (the guy she's been seeing down there), Lily's sister Anna, and the prosecutor assigned to the murder case. I enjoyed seeing the case from everyone's POV and it allowed for a lot more information to come out.
What I did enjoy about the book was the way it made me look at this case as not a WHO killed Katy, but WHY. Why would someone kill an innocent girl? Why do people do the things they do? Why do people act certain ways? Why would they automatically think that this girl had anything to do with an obvious sexual assault? Those questions were constantly floating through my head as I read this book.
The THING about this book is that I just didn't like ANY of the people in it. They were all so mentally exhausting to me. They could NEVER EVER just act natural. Everything they did and said was thought through to an inconceivable length. Like they were always trying to be silly or happy or whatever instead of just going with how they were actually feeling. If you're feeling silly... act silly!!! Why do you feel the need to contrive it? And it wasn't just Lily who did that. All of the people in this book would consciously think "ok this situation requires me to be [insert emotion], I will show the people here how [insert emotion] I can be". Basically everyone in this book found social interaction painfully difficult.
What I liked about Lily was that she could be so naive at times, and this wasn't fake. She really thought the best of people and thought, in general, that people wanted to do right by you. She didn't realize how people will make snap-judgments based on the tiniest things. And that part of her I could relate to. But other things about her weren't so endearing. Like: Lily tried so damn hard to do things that proved she was adult and mature when clearly she was exceedingly immature to an almost laughable degree. For example, she called her parents by their first names instead of mom and dad and she actually called her boyfriends her "lovers" in front of her parents all in an attempt to prove to them (and to herself) that she was grown up. Lily also literally said that she wanted to be friends with an ex-lover in order to seem "sophisticated and mature and continental". It was all just so forced and fake and annoying. And don't get me started on Sebastian. He's basically a nut who talks out of his ass for the entire book. I learned pretty quickly to skim most of his conversational parts because they were just ridiculous.
I was not feeling the father as a father at all. He kept saying how much he loved his daughters, but I wasn't feeling it. The family had a child die from an illness before Lily and her sister Anna was born, so this was supposed to have affected the way he and his wife parented. But all it really did to them was make them afraid of parenting. They never confronted Lily on any of her personality quirks and bottom-line is they raised a daughter who was crass, harsh, and completely unable to see herself at all. Also it really really irked me that he came out and said that he favored Lily. Like the other daughter was only born so Lily would have a playmate or something. How could anyone be like that??
The prosecutor was actually not bad to read. His parts interested me a lot at first, but then he never went deep enough into the details of the case that was probably going to be the biggest case of his career. I wanted to like him and I did for a little while at least.
Basically this book started out great, but eventually became a chore to read because of the way it was written. The writing was well done, but at the same time I kept getting the feeling like the author wanted me to think that she was smart by adding all this extra junk. Maybe I'm completely off-base on that, but I found no other reason why these people were written the way that they were.
I will say though that the ending was kind of perfect... and totally chilling.
OVERALL: If you followed the Amanda Knox case or like true-crime, this was an interesting look at those things. While I didn't enjoy the characters in this book, I still enjoyed reading about this case. It's definitely a book that needs to find it's correct audience in order to be appreciated.
Quote: "Nobody cartwheels when they're paralyzed with grief.... Lily's cartwheel was damning because it was, like Lily herself, indifferent."
This Book Contains:
- Cool things about living abroad
- The Amanda Knox case
- Elaborate Conversations
- Prison life
- A broken family
- A boy who is avoiding life
- A quick view of the trial
- Tame murder descriptions
How I got this book: Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for allowing me to read and honestly review this.
Date Published: 10/24/2013