Saturday, July 4, 2015

DAMAGE DONE by Amanda Panitch

Rating: A-
Release Date: 7/21/15
22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . 

My thoughts on the book:
I read this entire novel in 4 hours. I could not put it down. That alone shows that Panitch is a brilliant YA author. This book shook me to my core. It messed with my head and freaked me out. It broke my heart and made me mad. Needless to say, I doubt I'll read another book this year that impacts me in such a way. However, novels like this also exhaust me, and I can't read them often. I haven't read a book that messed with me to this extent in over 10 years. This is a must read for anyone who loves psychological thrillers.

Lucy/Julia is an extremely interesting narrator. From the start, you want to trust her and sympathize with her, but you can't decide whether or not that's in your best interest. This kind of unease continues throughout the novel and really carries the story. The secondary characters are equally compelling and complete contrasts to Lucy/Julia. Michael really broke my heart. The MIA parents are a nice touch to illustrate how many kids go astray and stay that way due to lack of parental involvement, and I feel like the villain's need for approval stems from that. This book really brings to light a lot of problems facing our society.

The plot itself is intricately woven and captivating. It will suck you in whether you want it to or not. Panitch's ability to randomly drop clues is astounding, and I spent most of the book hoping I was wrong. The clues she drops are not complete giveaways, either, and they will confuse you and make you think that everything you knew up until that point is wrong. The romance is kind of lacking, but in books like this, I think it should be. That's not the focus. The ending is both satisfying and dissatisfying. It's satisfying in the fact that it tells you what happens to everyone, but it's dissatisfying because you feel like it's not fair. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers. If you're not one who likes to have your head messed with, then I'd say steer clear of this one. It will stick with you for a long time, and it will burrow in your mind and make you think about a lot of things you may or may not want to think about. I absolutely commend Panitch for this novel and for pointing out some of the many flaws in our society and showing how society and parents can fail children and/or make problems worse. She also raises an important question that isn't at all answered in her novel: is there a cure for sociopathy?

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