What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles. Reviewed from an ARC, publication date November 2006.
The Plot: Popular Cass McBride goes to sleep in her own bed and wakes up in a coffin. Seems like not everyone loves Cass. Kyle Kirby blames Cass for the death of David, his younger brother. So Kyle kidnaps Cass. And buries her alive.
The Good: This is told from the viewpoints of three people; Kyle, Cass, and Ben, the police officer investigating Cass's disappearance. The reader knows more than any one character.
I didn't like Cass. I know, girl's locked in a box. And here I am, all mean, saying, I don't like her. Do I pity her? Yes. But Cass isn't popular by accident; she's an overachiever, who concentrates on her goals and gets what she wants. Yet it's not just about achieving; it's doing anything to achieve, including manipulating people. Cass can sometimes be nasty in the process. It's the nastiness that got her into the box; David asked out Cass, Cass nicely turned him down only to write a scathing note about it to her best friend. David intercepted the note and killed himself the next day. Kyle found the note.
Kyle isn't any great shakes, either. After all, whatever Cass did, she doesn't deserve this slow torture. As the book progresses, it turns out that Kyle is far from perfect. (I know, I know -- hardly the shocker, what with him putting someone in a box and all.) Kyle's motivation is David's suicide; but is that all that is going on?
While I wanted Cass out of the box and rescued, and I wanted Kyle stopped, as I read, I also found uncomfortable with rewarding Cass for her ability to manipulate people. Cass, stuck in the coffin, will only be able to free herself if she can manipulate Kyle and the situation. I didn't want Cass to die; but I didn't like the "golden girl," and while I felt icky for thinking so, I didn't want the golden girl to get another star, another medal, another reward for being a user.
What I liked best about not liking Cass or Kyle? I'm not supposed to like them; they are unlikable people. Cass's treatment of others is clearly wrong; yet that is what may save her life. This adds to the greatness of the book, because I found myself almost complicit in the kidnapping, as I hoped that Kyle would not be another in the long line of people who let themsevles be used by Cass.
I read this on a plane going down to New Orleans. This is an extremely claustrophobic book, physically (Cass, buried alive) and emotionally. I found myself getting antsy, shifting around, and happy to be by a window seat where I could look outside.
WHTCMcB? is an extremely well crafted psychological thriller. Even tho the basics are known at the beginning, that's only the surface. What will happen to Cass and Kyle? What is Cass really like? What happened to David? Who is responsible? What is appropriate punishment for our crimes, both real and imagined? How much control do we have over our lives? What happens when we lose the illusion of control? Can we have "closure" for the bad things that happen in her life? How do we judge teens, who are not yet fully formed, who are still acting in the ways molded by their parents?
Info on the book and writing process at cynsations.