A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo (review)
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Reviewed by
Lo, Malinda A Line in the Dark. Dutton, 2017 [288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-735-22742-2 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-735-22744-6 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 9-12

Jess Wong is in unrequited love with her best friend, Angie. When Angie starts dating Margot, Jess is wary, not only because she’s jealous but also because Margot and her circle of private-school friends have a reputation for mean pranks. Abandoned by Angie at a party, drunk, and angry, Jess gets into a fight with a girl named Ryan; when Ryan goes missing after a party and later ends up dead near the hiding place, the narration switches from Jess’ first-person account to a mix of third-person and police reports. The various plot threads hang together loosely through Jess’ feelings about Angie, making Ryan’s murder seem almost incidental and unrelated to anything else, at least until the twist at the end, where Margot and Jess prove, in different ways, that they both love Angie even though Angie has made her choice. For all that, however, the characters, including Jess, are flat and somewhat dull, with simplistic, clichéd motivations that don’t match the dramatic outcomes. The mystery of the murder does engage some level of curiosity, however, and readers content to drift through a narrative that turns on the intensity of disappointed affections may find solace in Jess’ success as an artist and the potential of a new, more mutually satisfying friendship on the horizon.

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