Mistrust by Margaret McHeyzer

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Smashwords Edition
Publication Date: July 29th 2016

1 OUT OF 5 STARS

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dakota’s life has been blessed. She’d popular, dating the best-looking boy around and everyone loves her. Prom night changes everything. One act destroys everything and Dakota doesn’t know how she’ll go on.

A promising premise with a horribly botched execution. Dakota’s narration is dull and emotionless. She describes everything that happens clinically, there is no emotion or character in how she sees the world. It’s bare bones “my dad wrapped his arm around me”. The narration tells you what happens but barely how Dakota feels about it and the word choice is sterile.

The dialect of the characters is unnatural. Their ages and personality don’t show in their speech; every character speaks the exact same way. Adults throw around curses, Dakota uses “oh my goodness” which is something so rarely in teen dialogue nowadays it was shocking. There are also instances where words like “ain’t” slip in when the characters have never used words like that before and they never do again.

The plot itself is feeble at best. A good portion of this book isn’t about rape at all and in fact focuses on fluffy family scenes and a disgustingly cheesy romance. The book doesn’t really deal with the main issue until near the end, instead it focuses on Rhys who is such a good guy. He does nothing wrong, ever. He loves Dakota so much he would never hurt her. The book is cartoonish in its depiction of good versus evil and that is something that cannot be done in contemporaries. In the real world, people are complex, which is something this book tries to convey but fails at miserably.

It tries to shock the reader, but the conclusion is obvious a few pages into the book. It tries to pull a bait-and-switch technique with the real villain but it’s trying so hard that it sabotages itself. It’s following old formulas, and, as a whole, it’s an unoriginal read. Worst of all it makes the story so black-and-white and slaps on a clean cut ending.

It’s important to deal with issues like rape carefully, this book doesn’t. It spouts statistics and clearly has a message (hard to ignore when the book slaps you in the face with it). Dakota thinks things about rape that you’d read in pamphlets. The rapist is ridiculously sinister, and that’s just not how things are usually.

It would have been nice to see a book that dealt with ambiguous rape, rape that doesn’t leave the victim battered and bleeding but instead leaves only deep wounds on the inside. Rape where maybe not everyone believes you because you’re drenched in blood. Rape where maybe the bad guy gets away because he’s been a good kid before this and he’s not a several time offender. The bad guy isn’t always defeated and that’s a more interesting story to read and offers more insight into the struggles of being a survivor than the case being neatly tied with a bow at the end.

Focus, focus, focus. Remove the fluff. This book is twice as long as it needed to be and the story is made incredibly weak because it is weighed down by scenes and characters that add nothing of value. At its core, Mistrust is a cheap love story with unbelievable characters that uses rape as kickoff point to gain interest.

Read this if you’re a fan of: Because I Love You

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