Author: Dawn Klehr (Twitter)
Publish Date: October 8, 2013
Genre: YA, Mystery
Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley. Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she's publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn't know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez's web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.
A true mystery is carefully and tightly wound so that, as a novel plays out, the story, the drama and the truth can slowly unravel and unwind, reeling you into a web of lies and destruction. The Cutting Room Floor is the type of novel that embodies that in a nutshell and, at times, felt even more claustrophobic than your everyday mystery. I've found in the past that many mystery stories focus too heavily on the plot to ever get to know the characters with whom we are supposed to empathize. This novel, however, errs on the opposite end of the spectrum and is extremely character-driven, forcing us to find a character with whom we can relate, root for and hope to come out on top with once the mystery has been solved. I found Dawn Klehr's take on mystery to be refreshing and, if I'm entirely honest, slightly schizophrenic.
The Cutting Room Floor is a bit all over the place though, for the most part, in a really well-done way. With they mystery well under way, we're offered two distinct points of view - one from Dez and one from Riley. Through Dez's eyes, we get to see that he's a little bit crazy, and he plays life very much like a game, manipulating people who might be power players or paws. He's also incredibly possessive of Riley, which should have made me hate him, but he was also kind of frank and honest, which I found appealing and, dare I say, endearing? Riley was the exact opposite of him. Closed off and vulnerable, coming out as gay made her a pariah in school, and her confusion lent a distinct air of sincerity to her voice and her point of view, which was a breath of fresh air from Dez's voice.
In terms of the mystery, I think it was quite well-plotted. It wasn't exceptionally mind-blowing, but the twists and turns throughout the novel definitely kept me guessing until the end, and I was surprised by the ultimate reveal. I think the sole thing that detracted from my enjoyment of The Cutting Room Floor was that I couldn't quite grasp exactly what this novel was, if that makes sense. I'm entirely for cross-genre fiction, but it seemed like this novel struggled to classify itself, as well. It wasn't just a mystery. Rather, it offered us a thriller, a murder mystery, a romance and a touch of gay fiction - all of which are great - but they definitely colluded what the actual feel of the book was supposed to be.
In the end, I really did enjoy The Cutting Room Floor, though I found myself a little all over the place after reading it. It's one of those books that will lead you in one direction, then switch the other way, all at a breakneck speed. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to all fans of YA, especially fans of complex mysteries, thrillers and LGBT themes.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.