Review: Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

Source: Goodreads FirstReads
Publisher: William Morrow Publishing
Edition: Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 2/5

I’m sitting on my couch, watching the local news. There’s Chloe’s parents, the mayor, the hangers on, all grouped round the pond for the ceremony. It’s ten years since Chloe and Carl drowned, and they’ve finally chosen a memorial-a stupid summerhouse. The mayor has a spade decked out in pink and white ribbon, and he’s started to dig.

You can tell from their faces that something has gone wrong. But I’m the one who knows straightaway that the mayor has found a body. And I know who it is.

This is the tale of two fourteen-year-old girls, best friends, and one terrible summer when lies, secrets, jealousy, and perversion ended in tragedy more tangled and evil than a tight-knit community can possibly believe.

A dark tale with a surreal edge, Jenn Ashworth’s gripping novel captures the intensity of girls’ friendships and the dangers of a predatory adult world they are just grown up enough to think they can handle. And it shows just how far that world will go, sacrificing truth in the name of innocence.

I won this from the Firstreads program on Goodreads.

Cold Light is a harsh, gritty, and cold story that really threw me for a loop while reading it. In truth my rating is more of a 2.5 but I’m still kind of confused on where I stand with this one. I honestly think that the blurb had me thinking it was going to be different, as well as the cover. I expected a mystery of the ‘normal’ caliber but instead I got a rather grimy tale of three girls in the middle of a really terrible situation. It turned out to be incredibly depressing actually and I have trouble remembering if there was ever a high point ; I can only remember having a feeling of dread and confusion the whole time. This book handles a whole handful of terrible situations and topics, and it doesn’t do it lightly at all. It deals with  pedophilia, underage drinking/smoking/sex (though not graphic), death on multiple occasions, and even bullying. If you can think of something terrible that happens in high school then you can almost bet it in this book. However while I did find the situations kind of scary and I know this stuff happens, it just got to the point where I had a hard time believing that three people who are friends would be so stupid. I’m not blaming the characters for the outcome or what occurred to them, because I get that situations with pedophiles are never easy to put an end to. There is a lot of psychological trauma that goes on, but there is only a certain level of stupidity that I can handle in fiction and this soared over that line. Call it a clash of personalities.

The book starts off with a prologue of two girls being questioned over the death of their friend, and the first official chapter is the news coverage of a memorial being built in her honor years later. It’s a great start for the book, however I think due to the fact that it flips between the present and the past so frequently some of the story becomes jumbled. The whole story unfolds in the correct order but there are interludes of the two woman watching the news cast or saying something kind of unrelated, and it made it hard to follow. Of course the farther you get into the story the more realize that all of the seemingly random stuff actually does piece together but it takes the whole book to get to that point. There is also a lot that centers around the news reporter that has really nothing to add to the story and only served to annoy me.

All of the characters this focuses on are depressing, and every one of them has something terrible related to them. Laura, or Lola, is the main character and the one who narrates the whole novel. I didn’t really relate to her at all, and that probably has to do with the fact that I don’t get her personality. She’s kind of a push-over and she relies on others a bit too much, and when she finally gets that streak of independence it kind of goes wrong. She finds herself friends with Chloe, who  in my opinion wasn’t that great of a friend and was more of a user than anything else. Chloe has been immortalized in her death as an innocent girl in love, and Lola works her way through the novel disproving that theory one story at a time. Emma is the third girl in this trio and while she and Lola don’t really consider themselves friends they anchor each other in the past. These three girls withheld so many secrets from each other it’s kind of insane, even when it would be beneficial to share they keep lying to each other. It’s kind of petty but then again I guess that’s how some teenagers are. I just found the three of them (especially Lola) frustrating, and I found the way Lola sought after Chloe’s approval sad.

I know that this is a good book overall, but I didn’t enjoy it. The mystery and lies repealed me more than it drew me in, and the story just felt grimy. It’s certainly not a feel good book and the issues it features are real, so before you grab this book be aware that this is not a light mystery novel.

2 stars

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2012) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Review: Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

  1. Laura Kay says:

    I want to read this book, but at the same time I don’t! One reason I don’t want to review it, is because I’m not sure if it’s something I can finish…as a mom. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  2. I appreciate your honest review. I was wondering about this one, but I think I will probably leave this one alone for the time being. Thanks for sharing it.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  3. aww, sorry you didn’t connect with this one. It had a good premises.

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