Goodreads Rating: 4.17 Stars
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Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.
Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.
Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.
Quick Reasons: sensitively written diversity (and lots of it!); awesome, complex, wholly individualized characters; lots of tension, mystery, and secrets to be uncovered; beautiful, melodic prose; fast-paced, action-packed plot
Huge thanks to Olivia Wildenstein and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me an egalley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.
I want to start with the most obvious thing first: PENGUINS, that cover is gorgeous! I admit, when I first looked this book up on goodreads, I was only about 80% sure I wanted to read it. I will admit further….the cover? Absolutely swayed me. Something about the red against the dark background is just so subtly beautiful and creepy at the same time. I just ADORE how the cover artist designed this one, too—it’s so perfect and fitting for the story within.
Secondly, this book? SO. MUCH. DIVERSITY. There are POC characters; characters with mental illness (schizophrenia and PTSD); LGBTQ+ characters… Diversity SEEPS from the pages, and it’s done so, so beautifully. None of it feels contrived. The mental illnesses are maturely and sensitively written. It all comes together in a beautifully captivating tapestry of humanity—my hats off to Olivia Wildenstein, she wrote this SO gorgeously I can’t even.
The main characters, while twins, are written in such distinctive, unique voices, I never had trouble telling which was narrating at any given moment (though chapter headings DO specify which twin that section follows, which was helpful at the beginning) The rest of the characters also captured my attention and proved themselves to be individualized, separate cohabitants of this story.
There are, of course, secrets—this is a mystery/thriller, after all. Secrets are sort of the main point. So while at the end, I wasn’t entirely sure how much I’d learned and how much I only THOUGHT I knew…there’s a second book set to release in the near future that will, hopefully, help to clear up the few confusing things floating around in my head having closed this book. The plot is fast-paced. The ending, especially for one of our sisters, is a tiny bit confusing on certain details…but given her health decline at this point, that’s to be expected.
Overall, this was an entertaining, perplexing, and gorgeous read. The prose is melodic and atmospheric. The plot is full of action and beautifully detailed. The characters are vibrant and wholly individualized. I am now DROOLING for book two, and whatever adventure awaits our sister duo. I recommend this read to lovers of mystery/thrillers, sensitively-written diversity, and rag-tag motley crews. I cannot wait to find out what happens next!