Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso
Piper’s fall was no accident. Did someone want her dead? It’s up to her sister to discover the truth in this shocking new thriller with an unreliable narrator, from the acclaimed author of Little Creeping Things.
Piper Sullivan was in a strange hiking accident last month and has been in a coma ever since. Her older sister, Savannah, can’t pretend to be optimistic about it; things look bad. Piper will likely never wake up, and Savannah will never get any answers about what exactly happened.
But then Savannah finds a note in Piper’s locker, inviting Piper to a meeting of their school’s wilderness club…at the very place and on the very day that she fell. Which means there was a chance that Piper wasn’t alone. Someone might’ve seen something. Worse, someone might’ve done something. But who would want to hurt the perfect Piper Sullivan…and why?
To discover the truth, Savannah joins the club on their weekend-long camping trip on the same mountain where her sister fell. But she better be careful; everyone in the club is a suspect, and everyone seems to be keeping secrets about that tragic day.
And Savannah? She’s been keeping secrets, too…
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS THE DARK WAY DOWN.
Piper was the star of everyone’s life before her fall.
Now, she still is, even in a coma. That leaves her older sister Savannah stranded in a sea of endless grief. It comes from her parents, from her peers, from total strangers, and it seems like it will never end.
But when Savannah finds a note in Piper’s things that suggest her fall may not have been an accident at all. Someone wanted to meet her that afternoon, someone willing to lure Piper there under false pretenses, and now everything has changed. Savannah’s only clue to go on is that the note suggests involvement with the Survival Club, and soon, she finds herself out in the wilderness, searching for the identity of her sister’s would-be killer.
It could be anyone, though, with the amount of secrets lurking around, and Savannah has her own to protect as well. Is the truth, and justice for Piper, within reach? Or is Savannah bound to fall as well?
The concept of Dead Girls Don’t Tell Secrets is a good one.
I’ve read plenty of murder mysteries, but fewer almost murder mysteries, where the intended victim is still alive but the would-be killer is on the loose. The circumstances have to line up just right to pull this off, but it makes for an interesting twist on a familiar genre, and I was hoping Chelsea Ichaso could pull it off. Plus, cherry on top, it’s a story about sisters! You all should know at this point that I live for stories about the bonds between siblings.
And as things started, I felt like I was going to get what I wanted. The mystery tension between Savannah and Piper before Piper’s fall was intriguing, and trying to figure out who might have hurt Piper out of the members of the Survival Club was tricky.
But here’s the thing: you still have to make it interesting after that, and in that respect, Dead Girls Don’t Tell Secrets utterly failed. I think it largely comes down to the suspect reveals falling flat. Most of them are petty teenage drama, and the ones that stand out are either a) huge enough to kill over, but not the real motive or b) make Savannah look like a self-absorbed jerk.
Either way, the longer the book went on, the harder it was to maintain my interest in it all.
I get that this is set in high school, but the relationship drama was way too over the top.
I don’t need these two weird overlapping love triangles. I don’t need petty rivalry and major miscommunications and cheating. Really, I don’t need any of it, but that’s what the bulk of this book turned out to be. Maybe for some readers, this is super interesting and gets them invested in the characters. For me personally, though, it’s something I’d rather sleep through. Wake me up when we have some serious accusations on the table, please.
Better yet, don’t make your main character the jerk on standby for all the flashbacks. Savannah’s pre-fall interactions with Piper hinge on a certain apathy and bitterness that drove me up the wall, and when Savannah then complains about always existing in Piper’s shadow, I went even further up the wall. It’s hard to sympathize with a so-so character who keeps letting down the character that’s actually pleasant.
Altogether, most of the parts that revolved around characters’ relationships with each other made me wonder why anyone was friends/dating/even tolerated being in the same thirty feet of each other. It’s hard to enjoy a book when you just want the characters to say what they mean, stop lying to each other, and just overall be slightly more decent people, especially seeing as someone they all care about is hospitalized, in a coma.
Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets is a quick read, but it’s not my favorite by any means.
With too much focus on petty matters and not enough proactive and sensible snooping and sleuthing, it really didn’t meet my expectations. Cap it off with a resolution that felt not only too sudden, but under explored, and I lost all interest.
I can’t especially recommend this book, even for folks who might enjoy some of the more subjective bits that I personally dislike. It just doesn’t really hold up across the board, and leaves a lot to be desired.
CW: suicide, loss of a loved one, animal death mention, drug use, smoking