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I Belong

Review: Reckless Hearts by Sean Olin

Reckless HeartsTitle: Reckless Hearts

AuthorSean Olin

Genre: YA Thriller

Series: Wicked Games (Book #2)

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062192418 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062192417 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


What do you do if you find yourself fantasizing about kissing your best friend? Sensitive guitarist Jake has been asking himself that same question for a long time, and there’s no easy answer. Telling his dream girl—talented anime artist Elena—about his feelings might lead to the ultimate rejection, but not telling her just might kill him.

Before Jake can make his move, though, a new mysterious guy enters the picture in an unexpected way. In Elena’s mind, Harlow is excitement personified: a rebellious yet kindred spirit who she instantly connected with online. Jake’s gut is telling him that something about Harlow is off, and that Elena is in way over her head, but the more Jake pushes the issue, the more he pushes Elena right into Harlow’s arms—and into a tragic situation that neither of them would ever see coming.

Quick & Dirty: After the enchanting, suspenseful first installment, I had high expectations for this second novel. Unfortunately, I was left feeling unfulfilled.

Opening Sentence: DP Movers – their slogan was, “you point the way, Dream Point!” – had arrived this morning at eight thirty.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Jake is a sensitive musician who is in love with his best friend. His sudden move into his rich new stepdad’s luxurious mansion has convinced him of his need to confess his love, but things keep getting in the way – namely, a boy that Elena has met online on her favorite anime website. Jake is seeing red flags and attempts to warn Elena of how she’s being catfished, but it only pushes her away, and she goes running to Harlow. The chain of events that follows will, in the end, threaten lives.

Last year, I read Wicked Games for review and absolutely loved it, despite the mostly negative reviews (which I still don’t understand. Guess I was the black sheep.). The novel was atmospheric, enchantingly written, with a healthy amount of suspense. That being said, I was thrilled to continue the trilogy and jump into its companion novel. Though characters from the previous installment are mentioned, the book centers around completely different characters, which I didn’t have a problem with. The synopsis was utterly different, which, before reading, I was excited for – I was sure Penn would make something incredible. However, although I enjoyed this second book, I’m feeling underwhelmed.

The last story, I fell in love with a complex characters, even the wildly insane antagonist. For this novel, I thought the characters were pretty cookie cutter: the boy next door (literally) who is sensitive and plays guitar; the artistic, intriguing Elena; finally, the rebellious, spoiled son of a millionaire. I do give points for Elena being diverse, she was Cuban, I believe. She was in a bad situation – her sister was knocked up by a partying burnout that her father despises. Jake also was in an interesting setting, in a luxurious new home with a new family. Despite the situations they were navigating, I didn’t feel compelled to read this novel like I had so compulsively been drawn into Wicked Games.

Watching Elena be catfished was a little annoying. Despite the way Jake communicates his concern to her – which was a trainwreck – there were red flags all along. Really, she should have seen it coming. Harlow’s character was definitely predicable, as well, and I saw from the very beginning the so-called “twist” that came along towards the end.

Altogether? This book was underwhelming. Yes, it had all the elements of a well-written story – diverse characters, an interesting plotline. Unfortunately, it all fell a little flat to me, and was in a sharp contrast to the first installment, which I found myself so entranced by. There were still really great passages, but I think that a lot of the times the book dragged, and it largely lacked the suspense that made the first one so readable. I think that I still want to read the third, of course, but this one wasn’t as good as I anticipated.

Notable Scene:

They’d talked about what a relief it was not to have to try and impress each other – not to have to deal with the other person trying and failing to impress you – how they could actually be themselves with each other.

No way would he betray her by falling in love with her.

Wicked Games Series:

1. Wicked Games

2. Reckless Hearts


FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Reckless Hearts. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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