The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab
Merit Press, December 18, 2012
Read for 2012 Debut Author Challenge and 2012 Standalone Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
Ariel's birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family's east coast estate, and all of Ariel's elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who's dreading the party is Sera, Ariel's former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.
They have no idea just how right they are.
Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel's father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.
This is the second of three books that I agreed to review from Merit Press Books, a new YA imprint headed by Jacqueline Mitchard. I felt that this novel was compelling, with an interesting plot and characters I wanted to learn more about. Why are Ariel and Sera so estranged? Who is behind the hostage situation? Who will live, and who will die? (Spoiler alert: there's a significant amount of death in this book.)
The story is told through alternating points of view, through Sera and Ariel. Maybe it's just me, but I always wonder why an author chooses to start an alternating novel with the character he/she does. In this case, we learn that Sera wronged Ariel in some way, and as a result not only has their friendship been irrevocably damaged, but Ariel turned all of their mutual friends against Sera, turning her into a social pariah. What that wrong was we don't learn right away--it's enough to know that Sera is forced to attend Ariel's Sweet 16 at the request of her father, quite possibly the only person who wants her to attend the party.
During the hostage situation, we learn more about the girls, not only what Sera did to Ariel (in my opinion, Ariel's reaction was extreme considering the offense), but how each girl handles themselves in the face of an emergency. We also learn more about Hudson Winter, the (hot) pop star hired to perform at the Sweet 16 (who is not all that he appears), and Nico, one of Ariel's father's employees--and more. What's most heartening, though, is learning that the friendship between Ariel and Sera might just possibly be salvaged--if they can survive the hostage situation.
The whole tunnels-in-the-wall thing was really cool, too. On the one hand, it must be so awesome to live in a house big enough to have an entire set of tunnels behind all the rooms. On the other hand, if you're that rich, you run the risk of having people ambush your Sweet 16 and hold you and your friends hostage.
The only thing that bothered me about this novel is hopefully something that will be corrected by publication date. I know that ARCs are unfinished, and errors are to be expected, but throughout my (albeit not that many) years of reviewing, I have never seen an ARC with so many grammatical and typographical errors. Again, I know that some are to be expected, but double commas are kind of hard to miss. And again, I'm hoping that people who read the finished copy will come back to me and say "WTF? There are no errors in this book!"
Overall, though, I really enjoyed the story and will be on the lookout for more from Daphne Benedis-Grab and Merit Press!
ARC copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Enjoy your reading!