For What It's Worth

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers


IMG_20181107_120301_997Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.


When West McCray—a radio personality working on a 

segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late. ~ Goodreads

Source: arc provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review and I borrowed the audiobook from the library and switched back & forth

Review:

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

Dead girls make for good entertainment.

And Sadie is about a dead girl and the sister who sets out to avenge her death.

Summers takes the tired, lazy premise of using a dead girl as catalyst for a heroes story and flips the trope on it’s head to give the women voice and agency as this story unfolds.

Sadie has a fascinating format – it’s told in dual POV. The first Sadie – who has gone on the run to investigate and get revenge for her 11 year old sister, Mattie’s, murder. The second is through a podcast, hosted by West McCray. This allows you to be be both in Sadie’s head, learn backstory and  view the other players in Mattie and Sadie’s story from an outside perspective. It was incredibly well done.

Sadie’s grandmother first contacts McCray in desperation, hoping he can help find Sadie. She has no idea what happened to her. Was she taken by the same person who killed Mattie? Did she crack under the eight of the loss of the only person keeping her going?

McCray ponders whether Mattie's murder or Sadie's disappearance is interesting enough to hold the attention of his podcasts listeners. McCray is not a bad guy. He's just covered enough of these murders for entertainment to be a bit jaded. His feelings change as the story progresses and Sadie and her family become real people to him.

The podcast is always paralleling Sadie’s story as the mystery of Mattie’s murder and Sadie’s disappearance unfold.

What Sadie isn’t….it’s not a thriller. It’s not  crime solving mystery with a tidy ending. It’s not a kick ass girl wins the day kind of story. Sadie has elements of all those things but it refuses to be pigeonholed into one thing only or follow a traditional ending.

What it is is an exploration of women’s deaths used for entertainment. Of dangerous people lurking right under your nose camouflaged as saviors. It’s a story about 4 women – Mattie, Sadie, her mother and grandmother -  grappling with their parts in this unfolding story.

It’s bleak. Very bleak. There are hopeful elements. A few moments of comeuppance, a few people who are kind rather than callous, a few moments of reconciliation but there’s no Scooby Gang moment where everything gets wrapped up all tidy or of a hot boy to come save the day for the girl.

I love Courtney Summers This is Not a Test and the sequel Please Remain Calm. If you’ve read her books – then you know they’re bleak but powerful. I can understand why some people won’t want to go there - but if you do – I think Summers writes truly brilliant, fierce, unflinching stories with female protagonists.

* A note about the audio book. I had a physical arc and, as you may know, I've been dabbling (somewhat unsuccessfully) with audio books. Frankly, I put off reading Sadie because I wasn't ready for so dark a read. I missed the release date but heard good things about the audio format.

I highly recommend it! It has a full cast of narrators which lends itself perfectly to the podcast aspect. And the voice for Sadie was perfect - fierce yet vulnerable. While West McCray's was perfect for the initial aloof podcast host who transitions into someone who is truly wrapped up in Sadie's story.

All the trigger warnings...highlight to view ->pedophilia, sexual abuse, drug abuse, some violence both on and off page

34 comments:

  1. Interesting. Sounds like I'd like it. Thanks!

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  2. I’ve heard amazing things about this one. It seems like it’s one of the “IT” YA books of the moment. I really have to be in the mood for something on the darker, grimmer side, but I’ll definitely be keeping this one on my radar for the next time I am.

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    1. This is definitely a read it when you're in the right frame of mind kind of book. But it's very good.

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  3. oh wow this sounds good, I didn't realize this had dark elements to it. Guess I wasn't paying attention

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    1. It's very dark and gritty! But also very well done and I highly recommend it if you can handle the subject matter

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  4. First - this is a new theme for your page, no? It's so cute.
    Anyhow, I am with you, this book was dark and bleak. I remember being really emotionally drained, when I finished this, but wow! It was so good and well executed.

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    1. It is! It will change every season from now until Easter lol

      YYah - this book was very intense but so well done.

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  5. I'm not sure about this one! I don't mind dark and bleak...but need to find out a bit more before I decide!

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    1. It's just kind of unrelenting in it's bleakness but very realistic imo

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  6. After reading This Is Not A Test and Please remain Calm I totally get it. This does sound powerful, and yeah I imagine it is pretty unflinching and even tough to read at times. Nice that it's not all wrapped up in a bow though... sounds like it's more realistic than that.

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    1. I think this one is closer to Please Remain Calm in that it's unrelenting in it's darkness and the choices Sadie makes. But this author handles these subjects and characters so well.

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  7. Dual POV does sound like it works really well here, and I like that it sounds so realistic, and uniquely so for this type of story. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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    1. It's even more than dual pov - in We's pov- he speaks to Sadie's family, those she's interacted with so you get a lot more information that way.

      It's so realistic - it's depressing. But very good!

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  8. That sounds dark, sad and emotional.

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  9. I have heard only good things

    But dng, dark!

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    1. It's very good - if you can handle it. I can imagine most people won't want to. I avoided it for months.

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  10. I feel like it's wrong to say I "enjoyed" this one, because the story is so dark. However, I think it was a very powerful story with an awesome narrative. I loved the different perspectives we see throughout the book, and thought the podcasts were an interesting addition. It showed us an outside perspective -- another layer we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

    There may not have been much hope in Sadie's life, but she managed to save a few people along the way. There will be fewer victims because of her actions, but that ending was a doozy. I was hoping for some closure, but aargh! Glad you liked it!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. I get that. I did enjoy it but definitely not in that fun book high way.

      The podcasts helped a lot to show how people viewed Sadie and her families situation vs her reality.

      I agree, I think a few people came through for her, some things were resolved or stopped so there was some light in the darkness.

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  11. I've seen this book floating around and I think I need to add it to my Goodreads list!

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  12. I've seen so many good reviews for this, so I'm not surprised that you enjoyed it! I'm going to have to add this to the TBR.

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  13. This sounds like it's right up my alley. I'll be adding it to my TBR list.

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    1. I think it's something you would like. Not a fun read at all but very good.

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  14. I had started the audio and it was a bit too dark for me at the time. I had assumed it was going to be a thriller type novel. This sounds like it will make me hella uncomfortable.

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    1. No, it's not a traditional thriller - solve the crime book. You really do need to be int he mood/ready for it. I put it off or months.

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  15. I've only read This Is Not a Test by Summers, and I need to read more, especially the sequel. I do hope to read Sadie soon. I find the premise interesting, and I like the way it's set up, with half the story being told through the podcast.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  16. Interesting. I would have thought for sure that this would be a thriller (maybe Gone Girl-esque, also I hate that every mystery falls under this umbrella but I loved that book, so apologies for the comparison!) but I am interested to see how the podcast narration plays alongside the girl who wants to find answers for her sister's murder. Definitely sounds like a book i would enjoy!

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    1. It is a mystery in a sense. What happened to Mattie? Where is Sadie? But it doesn't play out like a twisty Gone Girl story.

      It's much more rooted in reality and so there's no misleading or big gotcha moment. But it is a powerful story.

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  17. I've seen a few people talking about this one and I saw it absolutely everywhere when I was in NYC. I regret not buying a copy now but your recommendation of the audio book makes me think maybe I need to get myself a copy of that instead because I struggle getting around to darker reads but listening to it might give me the right push.

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  18. You are so right. This books is bleak but also feels so very real. It's not an easy read but I'm glad I read it.

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