I had originally put Torn to Pieces by Margot McDonnell aside, since I figured out the plot by page two. But the point of reading the YA Edgar nominees of this year was to get a full picture of what’s happening in YA mystery. So I felt I had to read this book, too.

And I’m glad I did. After a bit of a choppy start, I got absorbed by the story of 17 year-old Anne, whose mother goes missing. At first, Anne’s thinking it’s just another business trip (her mother is a ghostwriter who travels a lot), but eventually, she realizes something’s wrong. She asks her grandparents for help, and they give her a sealed envelope with a letter from Mom.

Meanwhile, there’s hot guy Tal, mysteriously odd Evan, and a host of other weird stuff that you’ll just have to read the book for, because I’ll give too much away otherwise.

The verdict on this book? It’s a mixed bag. It had a distinct romantic suspense, chicklit-ish flavor to it: Mom has money, buys clothes, hot boys at every corner… Not my cuppa joe, but alright. The mystery/crime components were a little contrived, a bit like taking half a dozen Lifetime Network movie plots, and blending them together. There was an awful lot going on, and all in one book.

And yet… This was a mystery. The first of the nominees that actually had a mystery with a crime (several, in fact), and a main character solving them. And the author wasn’t afraid to put the lead in deathly peril on a regular basis—kudos! After reading a few cop-outs, this was like a breath of fresh air. And I think this is just the kind of book a teen girl with a love for mystery would really dig.

I think the plot could’ve used a little less of a heavy hand. But Torn to Pieces was an actual mystery!

Hot damn.

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