Find Me by Romily Bernard – Review

Find Me

Book Jacket:

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

You can read an excerpt here.


Are you familiar with the ouroboros? You’ve probably seen one – it’s that image of a snake eating its own tail – and weirdly an ouroboros is how I find myself thinking of this book, because this is a story that locks itself in so tightly it eats itself in the end.

Still, things started out well – I enjoyed being introduced to Wicket, a wary product of the foster care system who also happens to be a hacker, a girl who walks a tightrope of mistrust, unable to believe in the intentions of law enforcement, her new foster parents, or the idea that she’s finally safe from her abusive, drug-dealing Dad. Wick may be no Lisbeth Salander, but I felt for her grim self-reliance, her feelings of dislocation (being now stuck in a rich neighborhood, after growing up on the other side of town), and for the defensive posture she just can’t let go. And then the mysterious diary arrives – left on the front step with a note from a dead girl inside – and I was in, I was hooked.

But then, as the plot continued to roll along, it didn’t take long before the story started being strangled by its self-imposed restraints. The whodunit was just too hemmed in – so we find out there’s a killer, only to then find that she/he is already obsessed with Wicket’s sister, fixated on her as the next victim (and said killer is dumb enough to post that fact to Facebook, no less). Putting aside the painful coincidence of a secret killer Wick just happened to learn of, who just happens to already be gunning for her sister, not only did this “close to home” paradigm radically constrain the “who” and “why” possibilities, worse it also boxed in Wick’s character in such a way as to sabotage her character arc, because it took away Wick’s agency. She had no choice – it wasn’t her decision, her courage, her resolution, her skill set,’because no one else can,’ that made her pursue the killer, no, she was just a victim of circumstance. And frankly, there was no reason it “had” to be her – her hacking skills really weren’t a factor, as they don’t end up figuring into the investigation in any truly crucial way, and all her reasons why she has to go it alone, despite the fact the cops also investigating, are so threadbare by the end of the story as to stretch common sense and credulity – and to be honest, it makes her look dumber than a smart hacker really ought to. I just would really have liked this book better if Wick had simply set out to uncover the killer of her former friend, and THEN her involvement brought her sister to the killer’s attention – I mean, imagine Wick trying to do the right thing, only to have it blow up so spectacularly in her face – because as it stands, all this story does is force Wick into a corner, where she becomes the stand-in for the requisite cat-and-mouse game. It’s never about her, and that lack of character underpinning leaves this story with no foundation to build on.

So perhaps it’s no surprise this story ends up collapsing in on itself – because without character, all you’ve got is plot. And given the severe plot constraints, if you’re a reader at all familiar with the thriller or crime genres, you can pretty much take one look at the hemmed in nature of the above scenario and by the numbers know exactly who the killer is. The suspect list is just too short, the close-to-home aspect too strong, the canvas too small – and when you have a thriller where the final reveal is no reveal at all, it just deflates the entire affair like an old balloon. And sadly this story does it all entirely to itself.

But even so, all that isn’t to say this book is plain bad, because it’s not. The general premise is great, and the thriller beats were effective – the paranoia, the danger, the stalking, all that worked for me – though admittedly the romance was pretty boring (lack of character will do that). It’s just we end up with a story that works at the micro level, but not the macro – and sadly I couldn’t ever manage to blind myself to how the larger picture was slowly collapsing in on itself.

So in the end, happy as I am to see another YA thriller on the market, I do think this book ends up eating itself – and frankly, I think Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around just does a better job all around. Still, I would definitely try Bernard’s next book – and even another book in this series – but it’s not a free pass. The next book is going to have to earn it.

Byrt Grade: B

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Xpresso Reads says:

I knew who it was by page 50. Actually, I was thinking there was NO way it could be this guy, because it would have just been too easy. But nope. It was him….I admit to being entertained until about halfway, and the writing itself is good – especially for this genre. It’s the plot that’s weakly executed, full of clichés and boring characters; empty of anything that would make it memorable. It might gather a better fan base from readers who are very new to the genre, but I’ve read too many thrillers to be one of them.

Publishers Weekly says:

…Bernard’s debut is effective as both high-intensity action novel and character study, and ripe for a sequel.