It’s Ella’s senior year of high school and she and her best friend Linds plan to make it the best year ever. At Brock Cochran’s end of summer pool party, the girls vow to have as much fun as possible before they head off to different colleges next fall. But when Ella is mysteriously attacked on her way home from the party, everything changes. Ella’s carefree senior year plans disintegrate as she finds herself at the center of an attempted murder investigation.
Ella tries to move on, but her attacker isn’t done yet. He shows himself in the form of horrifying signs and symbols: a clown mask strewn on her bed, a dead bird in her backpack, a shadow moving past her window in the night. And as the weeks pass, it turns out that Ella isn’t the only one being tormented.
With the help of an old flame, Jensen Carver, and her friends and family, Ella tries to attain some sense of normalcy, but she can’t seem to shake the feeling that there’s a dark pattern hidden in the killer’s every move. Suddenly, even those in her innermost circle seem suspicious. In her seemingly safe West Virginia town, Ella starts to wonder who she can trust.
Initial Thoughts: Wow! What a fantastic read! I had a very difficult time putting this book down and only did so to sleep.
The Dead List is a well-written captivating romantic thriller that had my heart swooning and panicking in equal measure!
Read it for the romance as much as for the mystery because let’s be honest, Jennifer Armentrout writes some of the most amazing book boyfriends EVER and Jensen Carver is no exception. Where do I even begin? He’s hot, loyal, honest, supportive, funny, and so, so protective of Ella and I was in love with him pretty much from the get-go. One of the things I especially enjoyed was how confident he was in himself and his feelings for Ella and he didn’t shy away from articulating same.
For example, see how amazingly perfect this quote of Jensen’s is:
“I want to be that guy-the one that when your phone rings, you hope it’s me. The one who holds your hand in the hallway at lunch. The guy who gets to hold you. I want to be the one who gets to touch you. I want to be yours.”
We are told he didn’t date, enjoying casual hook-ups, and while it wasn’t specified I took that to mean he was just waiting for Ella to open up and let him back in and he had no genuine interest in any other girl. That only made me love him more!
Ella was a great character too. A loyal friend to Linds, Gavin, and Jensen, and a nice person to boot. The opening scene when she was leaving the party showed she was a fighter, a survivor, and that only endeared me to her more.
I’m going to be brutally honest -my real interest with this book was the blossoming romance and the mystery/intrigue surrounding the murderer took a back seat for me. I’ve seen some readers suggest this is a horror but I wasn’t scared. It reads like more of a thriller to me. I never felt like Ella was in a genuine life-threatening situation and I was more invested in when she and Jensen were going to get it on than I was in identifying the killer, lol, HOWEVER that doesn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued because I was. I enjoyed how the past and the present intertwined even if it was a tad bit predictable. I liked the flashback scenes. I actually had figured out the murderer’s identity at one point but I kept changing my mind as Jenn threw out different hooks. Love when an author has me second guessing myself and Jenn did a great job here with throwing me off the scent! That twist at the very end was brilliant because I was a bit confused wondering how it was all stacking up and then bam, that came at me and my heart was in my mouth – that was so well written.
I ended up reading this in less than twenty-four hours and then I kicked myself for having read it so fast because I always do that with Jenn’s books and then I’m left feeling bereft.
In summary, this was a fantastic read and Jenn continues to prove she deserves to be at the top of my fave authors list. If you enjoy swoony romance intertwined with intriguing mystery and a fast-paced writing style then you’ll love The Dead List. Highly Recommended.
Thanks to the author and her assistant for providing an ARC of this book which I have voluntarily reviewed.