Wednesday, August 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

I received this ARC of Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date is September 1, 2015.

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large—and everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse, she knows she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him or will she be too late?

This book had so much promise and so much potential. I am trying to think of a single positive thing about this book. The beginning of the book with Gabi hiding in the bathroom was very suspenseful. I guess the whole mystery of who the bomber was kept me reading, so there was that. 

Let's start with the main character: Gabriella. She was so freaking perfect that it made my teeth hurt. She was in every single volunteer organization, got into every college she wanted and never even dated anyone because her mom wanted her to "keep her eye on the prize." Ugh. I hated her relationship with Miguel. First of all, when she first met him she assumed he was in an ESL class because she didn't recognize him. She also assumed he didn't speak English very well. I also got the impression that the author stuck a Latino kid in the story to try and make it more diverse, but then didn't know what to do with him. He would be speaking English and then all of a sudden, he would say a random word in Spanish, like bonita, perfecto, or hola. Oh, and Gabriella and a friend of hers talked about him growing up in a barrio, which was a great excuse for his crazy temper. <insert eye roll here> There was also zero chemistry and of course, Miguel confessed his love after a week. So many problems with both of those characters. 

Now let's talk about the mystery of the bomber. First of all, I am the most clueless person in the world and yet I knew who the bomber was the second he was introduced. Yep, it was very predictable. Throughout the book, there were inserts called "The Stranger's Manifesto" that was supposed to be journal entries by the bomber. These entries were boring and didn't add anything to the story. These entries gave no indication as to why this guy was choosing to terrorize the school or why he was targeting Gabi. That was the really ridiculous part. This guy was leaving notes for Gabi and calling her, but he never said why. But of course, Gabi decides to take it upon herself to find the bomber HERSELF and she never tells her dad (the COP) what is going on. The mystery kept me reading, but it was super predictable and still didn't answer any questions. 

The author's note indicated she had worked on a crisis hotline in college, but I find that very hard to believe. The scenes where the kids were supposed to be counseling callers were just awkward. But what do you expect when the kids got literally ten minutes of training. That's it! This school created this anonymous helpline to supposedly help students who were feeling alone, but they got no training. Not only that, but there was no teacher or administrator who supervised their shifts. These students were just left alone with no faculty advisor in case they had a problem. And the only thing they could do was give callers referrals for counseling agencies. 

In the end, this book had unlikeable characters, an unrealistic plot and zero suspense.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one. 


  1. Oh man. That's unfortunate. That summary hooked me in right away. Bah.

    1. Joy, I know. It's so disappointing when the premise doesn't live up to the potential.

  2. Oh, wow, talk about disappointments! I guess this makes an easy top three, huh? It just sounds unfocused, poorly researched & written. Meh. Thanks for the warning, um, chica! Get it? :D

  3. Yikes this doesn't not sound worth the time. Sorry it wasn't better for you - Thanks for the honest review though!!