Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at an art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes far from ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe he's trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead she's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help – but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something...but he's not the only one with a secret.
Camelia is an ordinary teenager—she has a part time job, she gets along with her parents and does well in school. Then she meets Ben, a good looking guy who saves her life when an oncoming car swerves out of control directly in her path. Camelia’s immediately drawn to Ben, but there’s one problem. The whole student body believes Ben to be responsible for his girlfriend's accidental death. He’s ostracized from the entire student body and small town community. No one except Camelia will give him the time of day. During this same time, Camelia starts receiving disturbing phone calls and threatening messages. Ben insists he knows she is in danger, but Camelia alternates between believing him and wondering if his presence in town isn’t just coincidentally synched up with the threats.
I was torn between really enjoying this book and being incredibly frustrated with it. I had a hard time with the fact that a girl so obviously in a dangerous situation would keep what’s going on to herself. It was also confounded me that her friends weren't urging her to open up to her parents either. Camelia described how her parents were going through a difficult time with the mental illness diagnosis of her mother’s sister, but wouldn’t her mother be MORE upset if something were to happen to Camelia because her daughter was too hesitant to "burden" her? Of course, I understand that being in that situation can make the victim feel embarassed or like it is their fault, even though we all know it certainly is not, so I'm sure the conflicting emotions would make this situation difficult to navigate through.
On the other hand, I liked how the author switched the viewpoints between Camelia and her stalker. As the stalker grows more and more frenzied, the reader senses it in the writing. That added to the tense atmosphere of the book and was just downright creepy! Ben was by far my favorite character. He was illusive and unpredictable. At times I thought he was the stalker, at times I did not. By the end, I was completely at a loss and the twists and turns really surprised me. I will say that the end did seem a little rushed, but I do look forward to reading the sequel. I hope that Ben’s condition and past are delved into more deeply as he really is a fascinating character.
Hardcover: 272 pages ISBN-10: 1423111443 ISBN-13: 978-1423111443 Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; First Edition edition (December 23, 2008) Laurie Stolarz Official Website
Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of the hugely popular young adult novels BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, WHITE IS FOR MAGIC, SILVER IS FOR SECRETS, and RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE, as well as BLEED and its companion novel PROJECT 17. Her work has been named in several award lists, including ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. She is currently working on a new series, also for young adults.