I don’t read much realistic young adult fiction. It’s just not my jam. I already lived through high school once and taught it for another four years, so when it comes to teen angst, I’ve graduated twice. But I love YA fiction that brings another element along with it, like a historical bent or a bizarre fantasy world or a dystopian nightmare scenario. A Line in the Dark is a delightful combo: a YA thriller. And it’s super thrilling because it’s a known and universally accepted fact that there is nothing scarier than a teenage girl.
Jess and Angie have been best friends forever, but there’s always been unacknowledged tension between them because Jess’s feelings are more intense than Angie’s. When Angie starts dating a girl from the fancy private school across town, the tension grows into something bigger and more deadly. And that’s probably all you need to know about the plot, because I don’t want to take away from the slow burn and eventual catastrophic explosion of this book. Teenage girls, a love triangle, complicated feelings, backstabbing, and manipulation. What could be better?
I was nervous about this book because I’d seen some mixed reviews, but I took the risk and bought the hardcover anyway. I am delighted that I was totally vindicated! And now I have that beautiful, sinister cover to adorn my bookshelf and my Instagram feed. I don’t think it’s a spoiler content-wise to say that there’s a big structural shift mid-book, and that’s what some readers have taken issue with. For me, though, that perspective change is what elevates A Line in the Dark above all the predictably structured novels you can find on YA shelves today, and I say props to Malinda Lo for trying something new.
Highly recommended for fans of dark mysteries and authors like Megan Abbott.