Title: Are You Still There
Author: Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Genre: YA Thriller
Number of Pages: 288
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.
Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends? Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse, she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?
Wow, this book was one heck of a ride. Once I picked this one up, I didn’t put it down till it was 4 AM and I was finished with the story!
Are You Still There immediately throws you into a very tense scene: Gabi, our main character, is hiding in a bathroom while her school is on lockdown after a bomb has been planted. Barefoot and scared, Gabi stands on a toilet for three hours, just waiting for someone to come in and tell her that this was all a drill. Even though it was the first few pages of the book and I knew that there was no way the MC would be killed off like that, I was genuinely freaked out for her. You could almost feel how terrified she was. Her anxiety radiated off of the pages.
Though this book is a thriller, the reader isn’t constantly on edge. The tension is broken up with less crazy scenes, like Gabi interacting with her fellow students and family. There’s also a romantic subplot that I really ended up enjoying. The cast of characters were all pretty lovable, especially the crew that Gabi works with in the crisis line center. I felt like every character had their own personality and quirks. The best part about the characters is that almost all of them say and do a lot of really…ambiguous things. Sarah Lynn Scheerger manages to make you suspect even the most unlikely people! I switched bomber theories A LOT during the book, which isn’t something I usually do while reading mysteries. While I won’t reveal who the bomber actually is, I wasn’t at all disappointed with their identity.
Speaking of the reveal, holy crap! The finale of this book is intense. I honestly had no clue how things were going to play out, and who was going to walk away. A lot of the things that happen in this book could very well happen in a real life high school, so it will really hit home in that sense.
I feel like it’s worth mentioning that there is a lot of extreme bullying depicted in this book, so if you’re sensitive to that topic, I’d steer clear.
For me, Are You Still There is a five star book that kept me on edge from the moment I picked it up. Be sure to pick up a copy and check it out!