Jun 21, 2016

Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 7, 2016
Pages/Format: 316, ARC
Add on Goodreads!

It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Book in One Word: Underwhelming

I was interested in reading With Malice because I thought it was a thriller, and I love thrillers. Then I was a bit more excited for it because I'd seen another blogger read it and really, really like it. I kept meaning to pick it up but never got the chance to, and then I finally did pick it up. And I've learned that With Malice isn't a thriller so much as it is a (rather mellow) mystery of sorts. And, as a whole, it's underwhelming.

Here's the thing about With Malice: it's like Guilt or the Amanda Knox trials, except it's less gruesome and bloody and is basically a G-rated version of those (though the book itself is not G-rated). It starts off with Jill waking up in a hospital with a broken leg and six weeks of brain loss after being in a car accident, and she soon learns that the accident killed her best friend Simone, with Jill behind the wheel. And some people aren't so sure it was an accident. From them on the story slowly and patiently builds up to a climax and the answer to two questions: Was it an accident? If not, who killed Simone? The problem is that, when the answers do come, they're so quick and just plain anti-climatic, and that ruins the steady pacing that was working up to the moment. I could handle that not much was happening--we got to see the various sides of a misconstrued story, see the effects on various people, see truths and lies and befuddlement. That was interesting and a fresh point of view, seeing how people were so quick to blame Jill and burn her at the stake when they didn't even know her and there was no proof. But it wasn't the worth ending.

Part of me can't say anything more because it could spoil With Malice, but really, there's not a whole lot to spoil and not a whole lot to say, period. It's hard to discern if Jill is a reliable narrator or not because, if she were to gain back parts of her memory, it may not be her memory--just images in her head. (Her therapist/psychiatrist explains it.) We know Jill as Jill knows Jill, but through interviews and blog posts and Facebook comments we get to see how Others know Jill. Same goes with Simone--everyone thinks she's an innocent angel, but Jill would beg to differ. Their relationship is another mystery as you try to figure out what exactly it is, despite the fact that they claim to be best friends and sisters by choice. It's not just the mystery behind who killed Simone; it's the mystery of Who are Jill and Simone?

Honestly, I really don't have anything else to say. As far as With Malice goes, I think I just thought it was going to be something else. I didn't dislike this book. The pace actually wasn't all that bad, though it lacked thrills and gasps and a heart beating fast. But it's like I already said: the ending and climax made it all for nothing. It was just so anti-climatic and not at the right part of the novel and didn't give enough or take enough time and was a disappointment when compared to the rest of the novel. I just happen to like my thrillers with a bang. But this wasn't a thriller. And the bang backfired.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? No.
Would I purchase it? No.
Who would I recommend it to? If you like a mystery that's very mysterious and less about the reveal and more about the effect--and if you're intrigued by cases like the Amanda Knox trials and television shows like Guilt, to an extent--then this may be the book for you.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book! I have been undecided about this one, but the cover seems so stunning! Thanks also for signing up for the #VASRP! Hope that your summer is filled with wonderful books and adventures!

  2. Ideally you described it all, as I thought!



I've been having s-to-the-pam issues, and I wasn't thrilled with Disqus, so sorry about the CAPTCHA!