A pre-release review! So, disclaimer: I read this back in June and while I did write it back in June, if you ask me any questions, I may not remember.
Natalie D. Richards is the author of Six Months Later, which I enjoyed (but never finished…Ssh.)
Before I do the review, so this doesn’t get lost under the cut, I’m going to say this: If you liked Kieran Scott’s What Waits in the Woods (which I apparently did not review. But let me tell you, it scared the bejesus out of me.), you’ll like this. Let me just say, I’m never going camping in the woods again.
So, without further ado,
Natalie D. Richard’s One Was Lost
Sourcebooks Fire, 2016
What It’s About:
Sera and five other high school students head to the middle of nowhere for a 5-day hike through the woods for a school “project.” (By “project” I mean it’s a service assignment every student has to do. There were a few different ones to pick. Sera got stuck with this one.) Not everything’s great about the trip by Day 2. You see, the boy Sera kissed but has been avoiding like the Black Plague for two months is also on the trip. Tension, anyone?
What seems like a boring, but harmless, hike turns deadly — literally. When the group is separated by a flooded river, they begin to encounter weird things. Like, they were all mysteriously drugged. Someone tore up their camp while they were sleeping, stealing food and water. Their teacher, Mr. Walker, has been really drugged and he’s of no use to them.
So, Sera, along with Lucas (The Boy), Jude, and Emily — let me remind you, neither of these four are actually friends — have to learn how to survive and get help.
Oh, yeah — to make matters worse, they think the rest of their group (that got stuck on the other side of the river) is dead. And not just because of natural causes. Because someone killed them.
So, there’s that.
Wanna go camping, yet?
The main premise is that Sera seems to be the one the murderer is targeting. Lucas decides he’s not going to let anything happen to Sera, despite how she’s treated him. There are plenty of twists and turns and unexpected things that happen that make you hold onto your seat a little too white-knuckled.
Want more? Skip below the break.
I’m going to be honest. It took me a little while to get through this book. I’m not sure if it’s because it was on my iPad and a galley, so the formatting was wonky. Or if it’s because my life was ridiculously busy the last week or so, and I just didn’t have time and energy to marathon read. Or, if it was just the book itself. (I’m pretty sure it’s not the last one, because while some parts did drag to me, I wanted to know what happened and was pretty satisfied with the ending.)
The Plot: The plot was like a well-written ghost story you’d tell around the campfire. (And honestly, it did start out that way in the book…tableau, much?) Sera and the others are all targeted. They have adjectives written on each of their wrists: Darling (Sera), Deceptive (Jude), Dangerous (Lucas), and Damaged (Emily). Because Sera has “Darling,” Jude and Emily are weary of her — is she involved? Obviously not, but no one seems to really believe that (except Lucas).
There are a few suspects as to who’s responsible for all the bad happenings, and they make sense. Richards does a great job of showing the rising panic, suspicion, and paranoia that these four teens feel as this is happening. It was easy to feel that same panic as a reader. (Brava, Natalie!)
Also. The ending — the reveal of The Killer — was surprising. I didn’t know who to think it was — believing it was too easy for it to be as obvious as the characters thought it was. But even when I guessed, I was wrong. I love when that happens! So, that was definitely where the satisfying ending came in the first time.
The second time was the way the four teens ended things — in the hospital together. It wasn’t hokey or full of the reader eye-rolling. It was natural and made sense.
The Characters: I’m not going to go into much detail about the characters, because part of the fun of reading this was seeing how Richards helped to create them so individually. They were so different, but when it came to it, they were able to survive together.
But Sera was interesting. And she was definitely a strong female character. (Maybe not as strong as Joy from Holly Cupola’s Don’t Breathe a Word, but still strong.) Since it’s in her POV, it was nice to get her thoughts on things. Especially her feelings toward Lucas. What I liked that Richards did was she made Sera’s thoughts as messy and complicated as thoughts about family and boys and expectations really are. She didn’t sugarcoat anything.
Sera’s main fight is that she doesn’t want to be her mother — an actress who left Sera and her father for another movie star. And she worries that if she falls for Lucas, it’ll make her like her mom. And she doesn’t want that life. It takes about 3/4 of the novel for her to actually realize she doesn’t have to be like her mother and she can make her own choices. I liked that aspect of it. It was a slow progression, but natural. And in the end, she didn’t want any labels (hidden morality, Nat?) and was just Sera. (PS: She saves the day.)
Overall, I’d definitely recommend it if you like a little bit of horror with your hiking stories. Me, I’m trying to stay as far away from them as possible, thankyouverymuch. But worth the read.