BOOK REPORT for The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer


Cover Story: Celebrity Imposter
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Lifetime Original Movie
Bonus Factors: Mystery, Six Feet Under
Relationship Status: The Stacy To My Wayne

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Secrets of Lily Graves

Cover Story: Celebrity Imposter

Hey, it's Zooey Deschanel! Looks like she's taking a break from New Girl to...hold hands with a jock in a graveyard? Is this some kind of music video shoot? Wait a second, y'all, that's not Zooey. WE'VE BEEN HAD.

The Deal:

If anyone has the right to go goth, it's Lily Graves. Her last name alone is grounds for morbidity, and then there's the fact that she's grown up in a funeral home run by her mother. Lily is pretty dang comfortable with death and doesn't mind flaunting it, from her dyed black hair to her all black wardrobe, but when fellow classmate and queen bee Erin Donohue is found dead, Lily's world is turned upside down by accusations, and she's not even the number one suspect. That honor goes to Matt Houser, star of both the football team and Lily's dreams. In order to clear Matt's name and prove her own innocence, Lily and her best friend, Sara, make like Veronica Mars and embark on their own investigation, but as they uncover Erin's dark secrets, Lily's familiarity with death hits a whole new and horrifying level.

BFF Charm: Nay

As a goth, Lily was never going to be my cup of tea, although I do have to give her snaps for not being the mopey, Poe-quoting, Smiths-listening type. (Nothing against The Smiths, but y'all know what I'm saying.) The main issue is that Strohmeyer never gave her heroine a chance to develop. Not only is Lily's character flat, it's inconsistent, severing any possibility of an emotional connection with the reader. It's a bad sign when a book's protagonist is in mortal danger and the only thing I'm worried about is her new suede boots being ruined.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Like my girl Paula Abdul says, opposites attract, and I'm a sucker for high school romances that cross clique lines. Matt and Lily are definitely different, and yet both of them defy their respective labels—Matt is a jock with a sensitive heart, and Lily is a goth with a sense of humor. Unfortunately, their chemistry didn't translate for me, and even with a healthy dose of flashbacks, their relationship lacked the depth necessary to elicit even the faintest of tingles.

Talky Talk:  Lifetime Original Movie

What this book lacks in substance it makes up for in DRAMA. Packed with ridiculous twists and turns, the plot leaves no cliché unturned, from teen pregnancy to drugs to suicide, and in true Lifetime form, there's a glaring lack of respect for reality. The no-frills writing and brisk pacing gave the book an old school Christopher Pike vibe, but the story failed to build any tension, and the sensational elements felt hollow rather than gripping. 

Bonus Factor: Mystery

In the YA genre, thriller is definitely the new dystopia, and I'm completely cool with that. I love unraveling secrets and finding clues along with the protagonist, but the simplistic mystery in this book didn't offer me many opportunities to get my Nancy Drew on.

Bonus Factor: Six Feet Under

Lily's funeral home life was my favorite aspect of the book. With casket catalogs, embalming and corpse make-up sessions (Drop Dead Gorgeous, anyone?), the business of death made for an interesting topic that I wish had been explored more thoroughly.

Casting Call:

Malese Jow as Lily

Grey Damon as Matt

Relationship Status: The Stacy To My Wayne

Although it's harmless, this book is kind of a hot mess, and if I ever run into it in the future, I'll avoid all eye contact in the hopes of escaping from its tractor beam. Also, it better not buy me a gun rack.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is available now.