“Waking in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of Jill’s life are a complete blank. . . All she knows is what she’s been told: while in Italy on a school trip she was involved in a fatal accident and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident. . . wasn’t just an accident.”
With Malice by Eileen Cook is a fast paced, high drama, psychological thriller for teens. It tells the story of Jill’s rehab and the hunt for what really happened in Italy, the author provides numerous plot directions and possibilities for readers to consider as to what actually happened, which ramps up the stories intrigue.
On a larger scale the novel makes comment on the concept of trial by media. Reminiscent of Amanda Knox, Jill is vilified in the media, completely torn apart without facts, using photos out of context and the impressions of other people.
A realistic thriller is difficult to deliver for teens but Cook does this well, Her plot is advanced not only by a convincing narrative but by the inclusion of blog posts, interview transcripts and news articles. This non traditional format is one which will particularly suit YA readers.
With Malice is not highly character driven and whilst the main protagonist Jill, is fairly detached and not completely likeable I believe that is highly appropriate given that you are supposed to be deciding whether or not she is a murderer! Unfortunately some of the supporting cast are fairly stereotypical; the evil stepmother, sleazy italian cop, the overzealous physical therapist . . . but they don’t take away from the narrative at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and raced through it. I will wholeheartedly recommend this for YA lovers of all ages.
As an aside. . . one thing I wish publishers didn’t do, is change the covers for the “international” market – I am in New Zealand and the cover here is awful compared with the US & UK alternative.