Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

I don't know where to rate this title. I was so excited when I found out I was approved for this title that it was a little deflating when I actually sat down to read it. More on that later. I'd heard and read only raving reviews for other Chevy Stevens titles so I was more than anxious to start That Night when the time allowed.

That Night is the latest mystery suspense by Chevy Stevens featuring Toni Murphy. Toni's spent 15 years in prison for the murder of her younger sister Nicole along with her boyfriend Ryan who was also convicted of the murder. Because Toni and Ryan aren't exactly angels and partake in the occasional mischief teens are prone to, it's not hard for many to accept the idea she murdered her sister. The only problem is that Toni didn't. The question is who did?

That Night is a first-person narrative that alternates between Toni's past in high school, her time in prison, and her time out of prison. With the 17-year anniversary of Nicole's death nearing, and Toni and Ryan's release, a series of events leads them on a mission to prove their innocence. Of course, the true killer can't let that happen.

Well! With the summary out of the way we can get down to the review. As mentioned before, I was eager to begin this novel as soon as time allowed. That excitement was quickly drained away with the writing. I felt that I'd been given a YA novel although it was not what I requested. I usually steer clear of YA because I generally find the under developed frontal lobe of teens to be draining. No offense teens... I just do. I was most likely as self-absorbed as the next at that age. Quick to be the victim, whiny, and draining. As an adult, you come to see that it's not all about you and my own problems are way bigger than Shaunie not liking what shirt I wore or any popularity contests.

Toni's recollection of high school is where she and I had a disconnect. Yes, her life was made a living hell by Shaunie and her minions and the result of their attacks is something they should never be forgiven for. But, reading the actual narration made me feel distant from the story and almost annoyed. I don't think that was Stevens intention. I couldn't accept that a 34 year old woman was telling the story. She just sounded like a child.

For a while, That Night can't stop replaying, reiterating, and reminding the reader that high school was hell. I felt like we couldn't get past her being a victim... which I never bought. Toni is a fighter. I loved this about Toni. Even with her back against the wall rather it be in jail or high school, Toni was not to be counted out. This spirit is what kept me invested in a novel I was sure to be a 2-star rating up until then.

Around the 75% mark, I was finally on board. The excitement I initially had was renewed. Toni's narrative began to focus on her time in and out of jail and allows readers to see how she's developed from being a bullied teen. It is during these chapters I was glued to the page. Needing to know what happened that night with Nicole and who's ass Toni and I needed to kick gave me steam. Yes it did!

The only other source issue I had with this novel is the sheer number of villains. High school bullies, jailhouse bullies, and even blood-related bullies. Toni's family could possibly be the worse people on the face of the earth. I don't know one book I've read where an obvious sociopath isn't at least supported by their parent. Most parents will make excuses their children until they run out of breath but instead Toni's parents just gave up... really gave in to the idea that their daughter could really kill their sister based off of testimony from one of their known frenemies. 

Overall, That Night by Chevy Stevens was worth the time. It's a fast read full of villains I wouldn't wish on my own high school bully ending in a confrontation I never saw coming. It's almost as if people don't care what they cost someone else all for the sake of them getting their way. And it appears the lies we tell ourselves to justify our bad actions really just aren't good enough. Although I wasn't totally in love with the first half of this novel I did find it to be an enjoyable read after all. I look forward to reading whatever comes next for Stevens.

Copy provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley

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