Note: Before I get into this review, I just wanted to mention that Macmillan Audio sent me a clip of the Tempest audiobook. If you like audiobooks, you should check it out here.
“Help me . . .”
These are the last words Chanetelle hears from her friend Ashley, in a static-filled phone call that soon goes dead. Their trip to the island paradise of Artula started the way any trip should, and soon Chanetelle and her friends find themselves in sun-drenched days and party-hopping nights. The vacation is not without its conflicts, however, and old rivalries and new jealousies come to light as the week passes. But no one expects things to turn as ugly as they do. No one expects that they won’t all return. And no one expects that murder might be the ultimate souvenir.
When Ashley disappears, the question is asked: Was it a random act of violence? Or is something more sinister going on? And is Ashley really dead, after all?
With a breakneck pace and cat-and-mouse twists, Spring Break is the ultimate beach read.
Note: I really couldn't review this book without some spoilers. The plot spoilers are minor, but there are a few comments in here that will change the way you view the characters, which will in turn affect your expectations.
So if you haven't read this book yet, but think you might want to, here is a quick, spoiler-free review: Good mystery, good pacing, meets feminist approval, respectful towards rape survivors, romance a bit on the insta-love side (but not overwhelming), crappy style.
I don't read a lot of mysteries, so I'm probably not the best person to judge them, but I did like how this one played out. There were so many different elements to the mystery, and even though I was able to predict some of them fairly quickly, I kept reading on to see how everything came together. So in that sense, the mystery was well constructed.
Another aspect of this book that I respected was the author's treatment of rape survivors. I've seen a lot of readers complain about rape culture, victim blaming, and pointless rape scenes in books. Spring Break has none of that. Rape affects the characters long after the fact. The trauma changes them, but it doesn't become their entire character.
Actually, something interesting about this book is that it shows a very realistic contradiction in how the main character views sex and dating. On one page, Chanetelle is excited about the possibility of spring break hook-ups. However, when she and her friends actually meet guys, she reveals her more cautious side. Same goes for how Chanetelle views other women. When she sees a girl in skimpy clothing on the arm of her friend's creepy ex, she describes that girl as a bimbo. Obviously, that's an unfair assumption (I mean, it's not like that girl knows he's a creep) and it's a little hypocritical, considering that Chanetelle and her friends are doing their own share of dressing up and flirting (isn't that the whole point of spring break?), but never once did this feel like "slut shaming." The evil, bitchy slut who is practically a staple in girly novels (Psych Major Syndrome, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer) never appears here, and despite the fact that Chanetelle expresses concern and disapproval over her friends' amorous decisions, she never loses respect for them.
The romance was a bit too insta-love for me, but it didn't overwhelm the plot. Chanetelle's search for answers and her concern for her friend were much higher on her priority list, and these weren't forgotten every time her love interest walked into the room.
Stylistically, this book was pretty bad. The exposition and "telling instead of showing," were worse than Tempest. I was also bothered by how one of the main characters walked off the page about 2/3 of the way into the novel. I think this character could have been a lot more developed.
I'm still on the fence over whether to list this one as "recommended" or not. This book was satisfying, but not impressive. However, Chantelle was very relatable, and this book is a fun, well-paced read.
So yeah, come to think of it, I do recommend it.