This is a difficult review for me to write as while I found a lot of the book enjoyable, a few things didn’t sit comfortably for me and affected my overall enjoyment of the book.
After the murder of her best friend, Ruth, Kippy is asked by Ruth’s mother to read and edit Ruth’s diary for her. With the investigation in her small town, Friendship, seeming flawed Kippy decides to discover the truth and use the diary to uncover the murderer.
There’s a strange and almost Twin Peaks surreal vibe to this book and the fictional town it is set in that really made it stand out. In addition to this it is clear as you read the novel that Kippy is a fairly unreliable narrator. Reading it I was never quite sure if what was happening was real or not. For me, this strange and unusual feeling really enhanced the book and I love unreliable narrators, however there was some uncertainty as to whether this book was meant to be somewhat satirical or not that I can as frustrating readers too.
The overall mystery itself into Ruth’s death was well done and interesting and the inclusion of Ruth’s older brother, a soldier with possible PTSD was interesting. The climatic scenes with the killer were well done and tense too.
Where this book came apart for me was its treatment of mental illness. While Kippy’s biting issue was unusual, the way mental illness was depicted for me descended into a farce that might have been supposed to be read as satire but either way did not work for me. Some of this may be due to Kippy as an unreliable narrator but the scenes in the institution contained poor jokes that felt uncomfortable for me as a reader. In addition to this, there is a gag about domestic violence I found uncomfortable and problematic.
Sadly these issues really impacted on my enjoyment of the book. The mystery and Twin Peaks vibe worked well, however in the confusion over satire and sincerity and Kippy’s unreliable narration did make the book difficult at times and poor jokes made this at times an uncomfortable read. I can see a lot of potential in Hale’s writing and this book; the creepy scenes are great and the weirdness works to an extent, though for me became a bit too much by the end.
Fans of mystery YA should enjoy the whodunit aspect to this book and I think fans of surreal books and TV shows will enjoy the atmosphere too.
I received a free egalley for my honest reviewing purposes from HarperTeen via Edelweiss, My review, its content or tone are not affected by the method in which I obtain a book. No One Else Can Have You is released by HarperTeen on the 7th January.