Book Review Time: The Blood Between Us | Zac Brewer

SynopsisThe Blood Between Us

Growing up, Adrien and his sister, Grace, competed viciously for everything. It wasn’t easy being the adopted sibling, but Adrien tried to get along; it was Grace who didn’t want anything to do with him. When their scientist parents died in a terrible lab fire, there was nothing left to hold them together.

Now, after years apart, Adrien and Grace are forced to reunite at the elite boarding school where their parents were teachers. Being back around everyone he used to know makes Adrien question the person he’s become, while being back around Grace makes him feel like someone he doesn’t want to be.

For as much as Adrien wants to move on, someone seems determined to reopen old wounds. And when Adrien starts to suspect that Grace knows more about their parents’ deaths than she let on, he realizes there are some wounds no amount of time can heal. If Adrien isn’t careful, they may even kill him.

My Review

“How do you think I should have been treated? Like some long-term houseguest?”

“Like their adopted son.” She picked up her napkin and held it to the corner of her eye. It was a ploy of sympathy that she had used in the past, but there were no tears there. Not even the threat of tears. “Not like their actual son.”

The Blood Between Us is a short, small town mystery/drama piece written by Zac Brewer (formerly known as Heather Brewer), bestselling author of the Chronicles of Vladimir Todd. And while I haven’t read the Chronicles myself, I’ve heard many good things about the series. (It remains on my TBR list, just like all the other poor souls on there). But the prestige of the author was not why I picked this book up. I love me some family drama and some small town mystery, so the plot intrigued me from the get-go.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t quite live up to its potential.

For this book, Brewer’s main strengths lie in his clear, matter-of-fact writing and his MC, Adrien Dane. The writing is very straightforward and bypasses the poetic flourishes found throughout a great portion of YA novels nowadays. I enjoyed the author’s succinct style, especially since it lent itself to the characterization of Adrien, who is a no-nonsense, blunt, snarky teenager dealing with the tragic death of his parents and the mistreatment by his adoptive sister. Adrien is a relatable teen that exemplifies great levels of angst, lust and melancholy, and what’s more, while returning to the past he had hoped to leave behind, he also deals with questions concerning his love life and sexuality, which is always a welcome topic to integrate in today’s YA and NA novels.

The shortcomings of this book are mostly found in the lackluster profiles of all the other characters involved, especially Grace, (whose mean girl attitude is so exaggerated it is nearly comical) and the uninspired ending to the mystery. Viktor is the only secondary character I am willing to make an exception for, but all others fail to impress. The first three chapters were strong and set up the suspense carried until the bitter end, but the remaining chapters failed to maintain the intrigue of the beginning.

While the ending was shocking, it was far too rushed and pretty anticlimactic. The problems presented in the beginning were fixed too easily and while the ending wasn’t exceedingly happy, it did tie up some loose ends a little too nicely.  I almost believe the entire story could have used another POV, specifically Grace, to flesh out the characters and their relationships and to enhance the mystery aspect of the book.

Despite its flaws, the story does have its own dark charm and it does include some topics (i.e LGBTQ, orphanhood, bullying, dysfunctional family) readers might enjoy. And the cover is gorgeous. So, I’ll give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars for this charming coming-of-age mystery and a genuine recommendation for your TBR list.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (May 3, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: YA Suspense Thriller, Mystery, Coming-of-Age, LGBTQ
  • My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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