Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Killer Potential

30315415Seventeen-year-old Yvette doesn’t know what’s worse: being locked up on a high security psych ward for a crime she’s not sure she committed, or having to see the vacant eyes of her fellow patients.

All she wants is her sister back, her parents to get a clue, her brother to quit dealing drugs, the murder trial to be over, and most of all, to be reunited with the pretty little pills that change the gory red on her hands to a much more pleasant hazy blue.

Well that and serious, hard-core, merciless revenge.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Aften Brook Szymanski surprises readers with possibilities in her novel, Killer Potential. Yvette has had an undoubtedly hard time growing up. Her father is always busy, her mother doesn't seem to care, and she has trouble getting along with her foster siblings. Meanwhile her older sister is too absorbed with skipping class and her little brother... that blood isn't thicker than anything. 

But is that the background of a killer? A seventeen year old murderer? Potentially. 

Yvette is depicted in two time frames within this novel: the past and the present. The past tells the story of moving around a lot, her dad trying to keep a paying job. Yvette's mother is depressed, struggling to raise her three children and make money by taking care of foster children. Throughout this, Yvette didn't get a lot of attention. She was the tattle tale, trying to keep everything in order. She didn't like to get in trouble or step out of line. That didn't make her foster siblings too keen to be nice to her. 

With the past, readers see how lonely Yvette was as a little girl, and how much she wanted to be close with her older sister. The past moves quicker than the present and soon Yvette is teen. She's experienced fear, loss, and confusion. Her mother is too interested in taking medicine to make the pain go away than getting out of bed, while her dad is still constantly gone. But as the past draws closer and closer to the present, the closer the truth is to coming out. The truth behind Yvette's current living situation in a maximum security psych ward. 

In the present, Yvette is suffering. She's in a psych ward for a murder she may or may not have committed. She's completely dependent on pills because they help her escape what happened for a little while. What's interesting is that it seems every time Yvette takes a pill, that's when the past comes back and reveals a little more about what's going on to the reader. Yvette is a terrifying girl in the present. She's manipulative, depressed, and rude. 

The contrast between the past and present is intriguing because the reader has to figure out how Yvette got to this point and Yvette isn't a very reliable narrator. That unreliability causes readers to second guess what they're being told and shown. But that's also what makes this novel so entertaining to read, the reader gets to make assumptions and guesses that may or may not be true by the end of the novel. And readers have no idea what exactly happened until the final few chapters. Also, as a  young adult novel, it traverses dangerous territory. It talks about self-harm, drug use, drug overdose, drug dealing, and rape, among other things. Killer Potential isn't for everyone, but it is an entertaining novel with mystery, intrigue, and a character with the potential to be a killer.

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

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