The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno Review

Friday, August 15, 2014

Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch. You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes. You live and you remember. Me, I live and I forget. But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.
There's something about a good psychological mystery that keeps you thinking about the book long after you've closed the last page. And, in all honesty, coming by such novels in the young adult realm is quite the chance occurrence, so when I heard about The Half Life of Molly Pierce, I was decidedly intrigued. Author, Katrina Leno, gives us a character and a scenario that we've seen on the big screen before, but I've never seen accomplished well in novels. Giving us a fragmented past, a broken present and an uncertain future, we're asked to get onboard and follow the thrill ride that is Molly's life. I can honestly say it's hard not to comply.

Molly was possibly one of the most refreshing protagonists I've had the pleasure of following in a long time. The Half Life of Molly Pierce offers us a sort of stream of consciousness type of storyline, and it gives a delicious, if confusing, look into her life, her mind and her thoughts. Everything about Molly is so asymmetrical. Nothing seems to fit into the mold that is her life, and yet she has a strong will and a temperament about her that makes us want to solve the mystery with her. Perhaps the strongest element of her character, however, is her sense of self. Even though everything seemed to be consistently unraveling around her, or working against her, she knew that she had a mission, and she never lost sight of that, which was refreshing.

Perhaps the biggest strength of the novel, however, is Ms. Leno's ability to truly capture the heart of this mystery and what makes it so very psychological. From the start, I'd known that The Half Life of Molly Pierce was being loosely touted as the younger literary version of Memento, and that intrigued me. Being able to unravel a mystery about a layered character that may or may not be all there at all times is infuriatingly intriguing and puzzling. And, to be honest, I as worried that Ms. Leno would dumb it down for the younger viewers. I was pleased to be able to read between the lines and really understand how complex Molly was as a character. It's really quite remarkable to read a psychological mystery that is layered enough to keep me interested until the end.

If I could point out one flaw in the novel it was simply that I guessed the mystery in the end - possibly because I knew the concept of Memento. All that said though, I was really impressed by the depth that Ms. Leno managed to convey through The Half Life of Molly Pierce, as well as the characters she created, because they all shone in their own way. I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy psychological mysteries and thrillers

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.


  1. This sounds very well-written, Melissa. I've heard some really good things already and I think I'm going to have to read it by myself, especially since I love psychological thrillers. This one seems like it's interesting especially with the main character being so developed.
    Lovely review, Melissa! I'm glad this was a winner for you. :)

  2. Ooo a 4.5? MUST READ! I have this one on my shelf and have thought about picking it up numerous times, but ultimately I've always been distracted by something else. Well done me. Clearly I'm missing out and need to move this to the top of the TBR list. So glad you didn't feel this story was dumbed down at all just because it's for a younger audience. I hate it when that happens:(

  3. I love psychological thrillers and I love Memento so I'm definitely adding this to my TBR pile! The premise sounds intriguing, and I'm really curious to see how I'll like this. Great review, Melissa! :D

  4. Hi Melissa!
    I love unreliable narrators and this one sounds unreliable? Especially if this is reminiscent of Memento (a favorite of mine)? This isn't my favorite type of book because the thrills tend to creep me out but I am curious and your 4.5 only adds to that!

  5. I can't believe I haven't heard of this one! I saw the cover but haven't read a review yet and now you've definitely got me wanting to pick this up. Amazing review, Melissa--I hope I enjoy this as much as you did. :)

  6. This sounds like it was really well done, Melissa! 4.5 makes me very curious for sure even though I don't tend to read too many psychological thrillers. I did love Mento though, and I'm thinking I need to go back and check this tempting novel out some more. Fabulous review :)

    Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

  7. I'm not thinking this is my kind of book but I do like when the author can write a truly layered character and mystery.

  8. "If I could point out one flaw in the novel it was simply that I guessed the mystery in the end - possibly because I knew the concept of Memento."

    I read this a little while ago, and I completely agree with the statement above (and your whole review in general! xD). Just from reading the summary I kind of already knew what had happened to Molly and why she was the way she is, and that ruined a bit of the mystery aspect, you know?

    But I do agree that I loved how complex and well researched the psychology is here. One of my pet-peeves is when authors try to make psychology simple in YA books because they don't think readers at that age have the ability to comprehend such complex things. I so appreciated how Leno didn't tune down on that aspect, and I'm glad you noticed that too! :)

    Thanks for sharing Melissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <33

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  9. Oooh I have been hearing that this psychological thriller is really good so I am really curious about reading it! It's good to hear that Molly was a refreshing and unique MC.

    Lovely review, Melissa <33

  10. I just love how you compared it to Memento, that movie was freaking awesome! I love psychological thrillers because of the lasting impact and not being able to see things coming. Thanks for invigorating my interest in this book once again!


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