2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.
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Book Review: Killer Story by Matt Witten

About the Book

Talented and idealistic young reporter Petra Kovach is on the brink of being laid off from her third failing newspaper in a row. To save her job, she pitches the launch of a true crime podcast about a sensational, unsolved murder.

Years earlier, an alt-right YouTuber was killed in her Harvard dorm room, and the case went cold. Petra knew the victim—she was once her camp counselor and loved her like a little sister, despite their political differences.

Petra’s investigation gets off to a rocky start, as her promising leads quickly shrivel up. In her passionate quest for justice—and clicks—Petra burns sources and breaks laws, ultimately putting her own life on the line. Even as her star rises, she worries it could all come crashing down at any moment if her actions are exposed.

When her machinations start to backfire, there’s only one way to fix everything and solve the murder—even though it may cost her everything she loves.

My Review

I really love the way Matt Witten tells a story… It seems I start every review I write about one of his books that way, but you’ll have to pardon my lack of originality because it’s a true statement every time. This latest is a prime example.

I could not stand the protagonist here. Seriously. She irritated me from start to finish. I found her foolish and unsympathetic and emblematic of what I see as a fundamentally irritating element of current youth culture with its righteous indignation and blind willingness to seek fame and publicity at all costs. I didn’t like her choices, her personality, or her rationalizations. Yet I could not put her book down and would not stop reading her story for anything….

That is absolutely a credit to a talented storyteller. 99% of the time, if I can’t connect with the main character I can’t connect with the story. Beyond that, I can’t force myself to continue reading the story. Without some connection – be it empathy, sympathy, adesire for understanding or agreement with the choices the character takes – I find it very difficult to fully immerse myself in the story. Yet despite a marked lack of those elements here, I found myself furiously turning pages to see what would happen next and where her series of infuriating decisions would take her. It helps that the underlying concept – a quest for justice, however self-serving and misguided in its execution – is a theme I find perennially interesting, of course, but mostly I think it’s about the quality of the writing.

Witten is a master at pacing and character development. I responded so strongly to Petra as a character because she was so strongly and thoroughly developed that I could not help but respond. It made the writing leap off the page and the story absorb my imagination until I couldn’t see anything but the tale as presented. It’s a fabulous thing when the writing clicks like that, because it means the reader IS the story, and that resonated so strongly with me because of the nature of the story and its examination of what it means to not only tell but live the story you find yourself in…

At this point you can sign me up for Witten’s grocery lists. If he writes it, I’ll read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.

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