DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown

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Click to purchase

Nikki Kill Series, Book 2

Jennifer Brown’s synesthete heroine returns in this follow up to last year’s Shade Me.

In the months following her discoveries regarding Peyton Hollis and her murder, Nikki Kill has tried to live a fairly normal life But really, how normal can you get when you discover your mother had another child who was murdered by her own shady (but ridiculously rich) family. And considering said family then set their sights on Nikki, killing yet another Hollis child (Nikki’s boyfriend) instead… But crazy Luna Hollis is behind bars and the rest of the Hollises have fled the country, so Nikki is seemingly safe.

Safe enough to graduate, anyway.

When Nikki is arrested at a post-graduation bash, however, she finds out Luna is free once again. Not only that, but the DA’s office has now turned to Nikki as their number one suspect in Peyton’s murder. It’s clear Nikki’s being framed and it’s also clear Luna is the one responsible. But that doesn’t mean Nikki will have an easy time proving it.

Nikki’s story is a tangled web of secrets and lies, and she only barely scratched the surface in Shade Me. Considering her investigation seemed to be at a dead end, though, I was interested in seeing just how Brown would continue the tale.

Brown does a great job with this sequel. A witness allows Luna to be released, leaving Nikki once again the focus of crazy Hollis rage and obsession. And it turns out Peyton’s clues from before have more meaning than Nikki originally gleaned from them.

Nikki is a bit like a darker, more troubled Veronica Mars. No, Nikki doesn’t have a cop turned PI for a father. But Brown works the story in a way that it does make sense for Nikki to be investigating a murder and (as she has by now) to gain the trust of an actual cop in the official investigation. Her synesthesia isn’t a super power, but it does allow her to see things differently than those around her, giving her an added set of clues on top of anything the police might have at hand. And considering Peyton used it as their own secret language, it also makes sense that Nikki would uncover revelations the police aren’t clued into.

This is technically a teen series, but it absolutely has cross over appeal for adult mystery/thriller fans. Dare You does satisfactorily address some of the remaining questions left from Shade Me but also leaves the current duology open to continuation. And given how this second outing ends, I definitely hope to see more of Nikki Kill.

2/17 Becky LeJeune

DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown. Katherine Tegen Books (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062324467. 480p.


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