Author: Elle Cosimano (Twitter)
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publish Date: March 25, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal Mystery
Source: Personal Copy
Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance...on her.Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.
Nearly Gone had me from the first touch of the synopsis - being touted as Bones meets Fringe. There's pretty much no combination in the entire world that could sound more enticing than that. So, naturally, I was hooked. And, in terms of follow-through, I must say that this is the type of novel that has fantastic potential in many regards. Elle Cosimano crafted a story with a remarkable heroine in whom we can all find bits and pieces of ourselves, a plot that's realistically thrilling and a storyline that will keep even the most avid of mystery fans guessing until the very end.
Looking back at Nearly Gone, I find myself needing more time to sort of digest it - even weeks later - if only because of the many layers the novel encompasses. Much like an onion, it's the type of story that you have to peel back, layer by layer, if only to expense the meat and bones of the plot in a form which will actually make you fully understand the depth of the novel. At times though, I felt like the book had a ton of potential and almost reached that pinnacle of success, only to fall just a little bit short by resting on a more average approach to the actual plot. For example, there is a definitive paranormal aspect woven carefully throughout the novel. Unlike Fringe, however, this layer of paranormal activity didn't feel as though it actually enhanced or furthered the plot in the grand scheme of things. If anything, it was just an interesting, if mildly arbitrary element in the end.
In terms of characters though, Nearly Gone really stood out for me. Nearly, despite her different name, was every bit the heroine that I look for in a young adult novel like this one. While she comes off as a bit reckless and abrasive at times, she's also incredibly intelligent, which made her stand out from the crowd for me. I liked how hyper analytical she was about things - over-thinking them at times, even - simply because it felt very tangible and real to me. I also enjoyed that she was human and definitely had some character flaws. She looked down on a lot of people around her, and while it made her a bit heavy-handed at times, it also made her feel really real, and I could get onboard for that. Furthermore, she had a clear and distinct character arc throughout the novel, and there was definitive potential and growth there, which made me admire her even more.
Mysterious and alluring though, Nearly Gone lived up to its eerie title and cover in full. Ms. Cosimano has crafted a mystery that's layered, and multidimensional. I enjoyed the fact that the author took the time to expertly time each element and reveal, plus we got to see characters in new lights, as well as different sides to the mystery as the story unfolded. It was dramatic, tense and, despite feeling as though the paranormal element was excessive, intriguing.
In the end, I really enjoyed Nearly Gone despite a few key elements being a little off for me. Ms. Cosimano is an excellent mystery writer, and I'll definitely be looking for more from her in the future because these are the types of stories that keep you reading on and guessing all the while. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and light paranormal elements.