Single Sundays: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Cold Calls (from Goodreads):
In the vein of the teen suspense classics I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Face on the Milk Carton, Cold Calls is a chilling thriller, an unsettling mystery, and a provocative exploration of bullying, culpability, and the cost of keeping secrets.

Three high school students-Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common: “I know your secret.”
Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .

This suspenseful, pitch-perfect mystery-thriller raises timely questions about privacy, bullying, and culpability.

Review:

When this book was first published, it seemed to be everywhere for me. I read the synopsis and it managed to grab my attention. It sounded like a realistic Pretty Little Liars mixed with messages about bullying and social media to teach a lesson and it promised to be a suspenseful thriller so I was looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me in many ways. It wasn’t suspenseful–in fact it was very tame–and while it did raise some questions about social media, bullying and privacy I didn’t feel like it did anything useful with those questions.

This book is slow–it’s only saving grace is that it isn’t super long. I wouldn’t have continued to read it if it had been longer than what it actually was. It wasn’t suspenseful in any way to me; maybe I had the wrong expectations going into it. But to be fair, you can’t claim that it is similar to the movie I Know What You did Last Summer and not expect some stalker killer following the group around. So don’t get your hopes up that it’s going to be that type of thriller. It’s more a mystery than anything with the 3 teens trying to figure out why they are the targets and who is the one targeting them. However, I found most of the novel focused on each teen struggling with their secret and the possible consequences of its unveiling and to me that was boring.

The three characters, Eric, Shelly and Fatima, are your everyday people so I found that this book was very realistic in that respect. Their secrets were secrets any teen could have and I liked that it wasn’t some elaborate, over the top secret. To be honest though, I found them kind of boring so that dampened my reading experience. I like realism in stories like this but I wish there was more development. I also wish that the 3 of them took ownership of their secrets and did something about them instead of just trying to bury them.

One thing that I really disliked about this novel was that nothing felt resumed to me. Sure, the mystery is solved but I felt like the bigger issues, like bullying, social media privacy and “culpability” (who is to blame), where barely touched upon. Perhaps the purpose of the novel was to simply bring them to the reader’s attention but I would have liked more elaboration or some more discussion about them. I just felt like there were no serious consequences for any of the characters actions–but maybe that was the point: to highlight the fact that society thinks nothing of these issues on a regular basis. If that was the mission, it succeeded but I wish there was more to it.

Conclusion:

This read was meh to me. I can appreciate what it was attempting to do, I just wish it did it in a different, more exciting way. It’s a quick, pretty realistic read but I think readers will get bored with it pretty quickly.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No. I think it might make for an interesting read for a school class because I think there is a lot of potential for discussion but for the everyday reader it isn’t that exciting.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Mystery, Thriller, Realistic
Recommended for15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Boring Reads of 2014
Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

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