By Ekta R. Garg
September 7, 2016
Genre: YA thriller
Rated: Bypass it
When two teens get murdered under mysterious circumstances, their friends will have to deal with the fallout from the police investigation and their growing suspicion of one another. Everything about the murders points to the group, yet no one takes responsibility until it becomes clear the murderer has unfinished business left. Author Natasha Preston fails to follow up her previous strong novels with the insipid book The Cabin.
Mackenzie can’t wait to graduate from high school, and she and her friends have planned a weekend away. One of the group, Josh, has offered his parents’ cabin as a hangout space, and even though Mackenzie has issues with Josh she chooses to overlook them in favor of spending time with everyone. Soon enough they’ll head in different directions, and Mackenzie wants to make the most of every moment they have left together.
In planning their weekend away, Mackenzie thinks it will just be the usual suspects: Aaron, Courtney, Megan, Kyle, and Josh. At the last minute Josh’s older brother, Blake, asks to come along. Mackenzie can barely stand Josh; she certainly doesn’t want to deal with an older version of him for two whole days. Because it’s his parents’ cabin, though, she doesn’t get a vote in whether Blake gets to come.
Her apprehension about Blake quickly dissipates when she meets him. He and Josh may be related, but they seem nothing alike. As the evening at the cabin progresses, Mackenzie finds herself more and more attracted to Blake. The two end up spending the night together, oblivious to the others in the house.
They come downstairs the next morning, however, and reality comes back full force when they find Josh and Courtney’s bodies on the kitchen floor. The discovery horrifies all of the friends, and they contact the police right away. The police investigation quickly becomes a pressure test for the friends. Officers on the scene report no forced entry from any of the outer doors or windows. Their conclusion: one of the group must have been involved.
Mackenzie refuses to believe any of them could possibly have committed the heinous crime. She begins asking questions, but the friends start to crack. Bit by bit Mackenzie begins gathering information that makes her wonder whether she really knows her friends as well as she thought. Soon enough it’s apparent that whoever killed Josh and Courtney may not be done yet.
Author Natasha Preston tries to shore up the gravity of murder in this latest YA thriller but fails to keep the pace even. In accordance with her chosen genre, Preston spends quite a bit of time on the relationship between Mackenzie and Blake. Understandably, Mackenzie seeks Blake’s company for comfort. Because she’s just a teen, however, she doesn’t have the resources or the emotional fortitude to make it through a police investigation.
As Mackenzie begins looking into her friends, she doesn’t gain much traction. Instead she starts spinning her wheels. The result is that Mackenzie ends up more or less staying in place until the murderer is revealed, which keeps her role in the entire venture passive. Readers in the YA market may forgive her inactivity; other readers may not.
I recommend readers Bypass The Cabin.