We all know I love a good mystery/thriller, especially YA ones. Well believe me when I say Tell Me What Really Happened is a good one. A really good one. In fact, it is done in a really neat format – it is all interviews with the victim’s friends. Intrigued? Read on for my review.
I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 04/04/2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Friendship, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / General
Format: ARC, eBook
There are stories about the woods around Salvation Creek and the people who have gone missing. Now their friend is one of them. A riveting, fast-paced YA mystery told entirely through first person police interviews of four teens over the course of a few hours.
It was all her idea. They would get away from their parents and spend the weekend camping. Down by Salvation Creek, the five of them would make smores, steal kisses, share secrets.
But sometime around midnight, she vanished.
Now the four friends who came back are under suspicion—and they each have a very different story to tell about what happened in the woods.
The clock is ticking. What are they hiding? Who is lying? Dark truths must come to light if their friend is to be found...
Told entirely through first-person police interviews, this riveting mystery asks: what really happened that night?
- Fans of Holly Jackson and Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Mysteries and police procedurals
- People looking for young adult books best sellers
Also by Chelsea Sedoti:
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
As You Wish
It Came from the Sky
Praise for Chelsea Sedoti:
"Easy to read and hard to put down."—VOYA on As You Wish
"A dark, comedic mystery about a girl's quest for proof that ultimately helps her discover some truths about herself." —Justine on The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
"[A] quirky, intelligent novel." —Booklist on It Came from the Sky
CW: Death, Guns, Shooting, Murder, Blood
Tell Me What Really Happened: Characters
In Tell Me What Really Happened we have five characters to go with – the victim and her four friends. Let’s start with our victim.
We don’t actually get to meet the real Maylee. She only speaks when one of her friends tells about something she said. From what I could gather, she’s kind of a pain in the ass. She can be rude and abrasive, manipulating and cold. But she can also be warm and loving as well. She’s definitely a dichotomy. I’m not overly fond of her, which is kind of sad, but I have to be honest.
Petra is Maylee’s best friend. She is absolutely a control freak. She’s obnoxious, abrasive, rude, and feels like she has to make sure that every little detail is scheduled. She made me want to reach through the screen and slap her more than once. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing to be honest.
Nolan is Petra’s stepbrother. They love each other despite not being blood related. Nolan doesn’t care much for people, except for his online friends. Most of the other characters don’t believe he has real-life friends, although Nolan swears he does. He’s a bit of an odd duck. I don’t particularly like Nolan, but I don’t dislike him either. I know, that doesn’t make sense, but there it is.
John is Maylee’s boyfriend. There’s a lot of commentary from him and a bit from Petra, regarding the fact that he’s Black1Always stated with a capital B. Of course, the interviews are being conducted by unseen, unnamed police officers. However, since it seems that all four friends were being just as scrutinized as he was, it didn’t make sense to have the constant reminders of his race. He was a character that, like Nolan, I didn’t like but didn’t dislike either.
If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Abigail. She’s a lot like me – gets talking and gets off the subject, then has to be brought back to the subject. I do that all the time. There’s also the fact that she just seems to have a decent life but others don’t want to believe it because of who her dad is and where she lives. I admit, I really do like Abigail.
Tell Me What Really Happened: Atmosphere
The atmosphere in Tell Me What Really Happened is hard to pin down. The characters are sitting in interview rooms at the police station, that much is clear, but the rooms are never described to us. Instead, all of the atmosphere ends up being the woods in which Maylee disappeared.
Now if you’ve ever been camping you know that the woods can be pretty darned creepy at night, especially if you’re not used to going camping very much. The woods in Tell Me What Really Happened are just as creepy as you’d expect. There’s a sinister vibe to the woods that is only elevated by the stories being told by the four surviving friends. All in all, it’s a great atmosphere and a perfect setting for a disappearance.
Tell Me What Really Happened: Writing
The writing style Chelsea Sedoti used for Tell Me What Really Happened was very interesting. Have I read books where a victim’s friends/family are being interviewed? Yes, I absolutely have. But have I ever read a book in which the entire book is nothing but those interviews? No, I have not. This was a great way to handle the book. The writing is easy to read and easy to follow – at least as much as it can be. After all, these are “witness” interviews and so can be a bit – messy at times.
Tell Me What Really Happened: Plot
Ok, so here’s the thing – the plot for this book is hard to pin down at first. We know there’s a missing girl and we’re getting what her friends are saying happened. Then you realize that the plot is exactly that – the differing, mixed-up stories of the surviving friends! It’s actually brilliant because the plot is so well hidden, you don’t realize you’re in the thick of it from the beginning. Well done!
Tell Me What Really Happened: Intrigue
A mystery/thriller has to have intrigue or it wouldn’t be a mystery/thriller. This one has plenty of it. From Nolan’s cryptozoological conspiracy theories to Petra’s constant complaining about everyone and every thing, I found myself wanting to know what was going to be said next. The twists and turns and backtracking in the interviews is amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tell Me What Really Happened has some amazing intrigue – and you’ll never guess what’s happening next.
Tell Me What Really Happened: Logic
Ok, so with this particular story and plot, logic goes straight out the window. This isn’t a bad thing – it just means that with four different people telling four stories and contradicting each other one moment and agreeing the next, logic doesn’t play a huge part in Tell Me What Really Happened.
Tell Me What Really Happened: Ending
Ok, the ending to this book may be polarizing. Some people will love it, others will hate it. There are parts of the story and information revealed that will make no sense. There are also parts of the story and information revealed that will make all the sense in the world. The problem is… how will the story actually end? That my friends is the best part… because the ending is absolutely unexpected. I loved it.
I gave this book 5 stars because I was captivated. I didn’t want to put this book down. It was so good and I just kept wanting to see what the friends would say next. If you love mystery/thriller books, you should pick this one up. Even though it’s a YA novel, trust me, you’ll love it.