ARC Review - Damage Done

Title: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch
Publisher: Random House
Series: n/a
Published: July 21, 2015
Source: For review via local indie
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Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.
After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.
Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.
One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning...


This book has been on my radar for quite some time; in fact I featured the book and interviewed the author last year as part of a month-log spotlight on YA horror/thriller books for my previous blog (see that interview here) so I had some pretty high hopes for it.  Thankfully it didn't disappoint.  

I'm currently racking my brain trying to think of a book that, plot-wise, is similar to this one but honestly I'm coming up empty.  The closest thing I can think of is the upcoming anthology VIOLET ENDS which focuses on the people around the shooter and tells their stories, but even that's not really what this book is about.  Yes, there's the element of the school shooting but it goes beyond that in the sense that someone from Julia/Lucy's old life appears to be following her and attempting to stir up trouble.  And the twists!  Yes, I did suspect what the twists were, at least some of them, but when they were revealed it was still like a punch to the gut because OH MAN.  Honestly this might be up there with the craziest twists I've ever read, because while you might guess one or two I highly doubt you will guess them all.

Almost, if not all, of those twists revolve around Julia/Lucy and she is a FANTASTIC main character.  She's so different from the rest of the female out there in the YA world and that honestly makes me so happy because I personally believe there should be more of them like her.It's hard to explain why she was so different without spoiling it, but I promise you that if you make it to the end of the book you'll see why she's so unique, especially for a teen novel.  The relationship she has with Alane, her best friend, is also something I loved.  Actually the one relationship I didn't love as much as I probably could have was the romantic one between Michael and Julia/Lucy.  It was there, and it was cute, but I will admit it seemed a little too fast for me.  Granted, considering the book is a thriller and things have to happen quickly to keep the reader engaged I can see why it went down like that.

Being such a fast paced book I was a little surprised to find that the book bounces between both the present and the past as well as including reports on Julia/Lucy's twin brother done by his psychologist.  Despite the fact that past and present are woven into the same chapters it's not as confusing as you might think and honestly it flows really well.  Bits and pieces of the story of the shooting, of Julia/Lucy and Ryan's background, are expertly placed to give you a better understanding of things you might have questions about.  It was also great to get a glimpse into both the twin and the his psychologist, seeing as they play such a large role in the story but are relatively absent throughout it.  The reports paint a horrifying picture that, despite being fictional, make you wonder about the people who do these things in real life.

In the end I was just so happy with this book; it was fast paced and engaging, the characters were terrific, and the twists were unbelievably well done.  When I finished I actually sent a tweet to the author saying that this was the kind of book I one day hope to write, which to me is just so cool.  I'm sure that doesn't mean much to any of you though, so I'll leave you with this; if you want a book with twists that is likely to leave you wide-eyed and maybe slightly weary of the people around you I suggest you at least give this one a shot, either way I'm pretty sure you'll be thinking about it for a long time to come even after you finish.

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