Simply put, this novel was a big disappointment for me in so many ways. To be fair, I broke the numero uno code of honor of all readers: I judged the book by the cover. I expected the protagonist to be a badass modern day Nancy Drew who took no shit and had amazing detective skills, just because of the cover. I expected the book to drag me into a darker world than the dirty streets of England in the 1800’s with a protagonist similar – not better but like-minded – to the genius sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. What I got felt like a jug of Kool-Aid without any sugar.
Jex Malone is a teenager who feels that all the odds are against her because she is forced to spend her summer vacation with her detective father in the town that tore her family apart. The way this concept is introduced to readers in the beginning makes it seem like Jex is a “troubled child” and a rebel when in reality she’s just exaggerating over a small situation. It’s not like she has a criminal record.
Despite all that, I still liked Jex’s sense of humour. While, at times she seemed just plain snarky, I enjoyed the small moments when her creativity in outsmarting someone or a situation was top-notch; the different excuses she constantly gave when she didn’t want to visit her father in the summer; her pet snake, Fluffy, died and she was in mourning for 12 weeks? Classic.
As Jex lands in Green Valley, Nevada, she is instantly face-to-face with her father. While I couldn’t understand her deep-rooted hate for him, I didn’t appreciate the fact that he constantly lives up to Jex’s expectations of him. How could he not make accommodations for his daughter whom he’s begged to see every summer since the divorce? Who makes their only daughter sleep in a couch their dog has been occupying? Not cool.
Other than having to endure being in Green Valley with nothing to do, Jex meets up (rather ambushed by) three girls, Cissy, Deva, and Nat who are fascinated by Detective Malone’s daughter. Even more so, they’re interested in the case that tore Jex’s family apart: The Patty Matthews case. This is where the story went downhill for me. To discourage the girls from sharing the information on the case that they found in her father’s office, she persuades the girls to create a detective club (the “Drew-Ids”). Even though Jex makes it clear that she has no interest in solving or even investigating this case, she’s too easily persuaded into being a true “Drew-Id”. I would’ve preferred if she had put up more of a fight about solving a mystery that has caused her and her family so much grief instead of just going with the flow.
Even though their sleuthing skills fall short of a true amateur detective, I still enjoyed reading about how they came across the clues. The part where they had to snoop around the creepy neighbour’s house? While very cliché, I loved the suspense. When the girls investigated Patty Matthews’ house and nearly got caught rummaging through Patty’s belonging? I enjoyed reading every moment of that part.
The remaining 249 pages were immensely boring to sit through. Despite the clues that they find I had already solved the case long before they did which is very surprising because I’m not very good at finding anything. These girls have watched CSI, read Nancy Drew books and other mystery related-media, but they aren’t very good at sleuthing?
On top of all this, the dialogue wasn’t very well-written. It always felt as if Jex was talking or what she’d expect those around her to say.
However, I really liked how the characters were described, but it seemed as if they were all a little too one-dimensional for me.
I was so certain about the ending that I sped through the last few pages to spear myself of any more ridiculous assumptions the Drew-Ids came up with. I also couldn’t stand reading through the “five minutes of fame” that they basked in. How did the girls staying in an expensive hotel and one of them being mistaken as a celebrity add anything to the story?
I don’t like being critical of novels, especially ones with awesome covers (I like pretty things, sue me) but “Jex Malone” just didn’t give me the thrill I expected of it. Maybe I’m discrediting it and someone else might find it a suspenseful read. All I know is that it didn’t suit me.
Publisher: Merit Press (June 18, 2014)
Length: 304 pages
Genre: YA Fiction, Mystery
Completed: April 2015