The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
Young Adult Mystery Thriller
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Published October 13th, 2015 by Doubleday Canada
Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.
Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.
The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with ‘issues.’ But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.
The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.
Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.
Right away after reading the synopsis, I was a little hesitant going into this book. I wasn’t sure if it sounded good or hokey. So, obviously, I took to Goodreads. You know, as you do. There (at this point) aren’t that many rating up yet, but there were more than a hundred, and the average was 4.16. This gave me a bit of reassurance going in.
First off we meet the main character Riley. She’s suffering from PTSD in the aftermath of bloody home invasion. At the urging of her mother, she’s in therapy (unsurprisingly). However, her counsellor and her mother are also insisting that it would be good for her to attend an overnight group therapy session (is that even a thing?).
So, she’s packed a bag and her mother takes her to the old warehouse-turned-office-building they will be staying in. It’s still undergoing some construction so it’s not up to code yet. Also, it has no windows. And very few exits.
Let’s pause for a minute, shall we? What the what? How would a building without windows even be allowed to be built? What if there was a fire? Why would this being the chosen location? Why on earth would parents agree to have their children stay there? Why would there only be two counsellor’s present? The list goes on. But I digress.
Anyway, so there’s Riley, some other randos, and then there’s Max. He’s the handsome, snarky, British boy with stuff to hide.
The narration changes back and forth between Max and Riley, which I actually really enjoyed. For Riley, it was first person, but for Max it was third person. This also was pretty great, but I can’t tell you why for spoilery reasons.
So, they are in a group therapy session when things turn into a hostage situation. Three armed dudes in alien masks bust in and things get cray. But… They also get a little tedious and a tad ridiculous. For like 50% of the book it’s kids running around in a building with no windows. At first it was exciting and I was like, Okay, so, it might be a little weird but kind of exciting though maybe? But no… It stopped being exciting.
I also found the conclusion implausible, not to mention a tad ridiculous and convoluted. I’m sad because I really wanted to like this book. I love Kelley Armstrong, particularly the Cainsville series. Love it. This was my first of her Young Adult books and it has made me hesitant to pick up her others. Maybe because this wasn’t paranormal? I don’t know. I just… really didn’t like it.
HOWEVER, I did enjoy the writing and the main characters. Well, Max. I really liked Max. He’s a fun, sarcastic, and quirky character and has a unique perspective that was really interesting to read from. And, for that reason, I soldiered through the book. For the most part though, I didn’t connect with the other characters. Riley was okay but a little annoying, and all the secondary characters felt pretty flat.
I’m not sure that I can really recommend this book personally… But there seem to be a lot of good reviews on Goodreads. If the synopsis interests you and you’re into YA mystery thrillers, check it out and let me know what you think!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.