Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital to discover an attempt has been made on her life. But who in her sleepy town could have hit her with their car? And why? Before she can consider the question, she finds that she's awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people's deaths when they touch her.
While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old friend, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva's power to keep her friends - and themselves – alive. But the killer is obsessed and will stop at nothing to get to Eva…
No spoilers ahead.
An Advanced Reader's Copy of this book has been graciously provided by HarperCollins UK in exchange for an honest review.
If you haven't heard about Made For You by Melissa Marr, it's most likely because you know it under its alternate name. Made For You was originally titled This Is Why We Need More YA Crime/Mystery In Our Lives. If it still doesn't ring a bell, then go ahead and pick it up. Melissa Marr, known for her fantasy Wicked Lovely series, ventures out into the world of YA contemporary (with a dash of magical realism) in Made For You, and it's everything we could have hoped for, and more.
In dual narrative, this story alternates between the POV of a girl who survived an attempt at her life, and the actual killer who was responsible for it. And it's every bit as bone-chilling, and every bit as exciting as it sounds. Following this attempt at her life, Eva Tilling's high school friends find themselves in danger equal to the one Eva herself was in, and often a lot less lucky in terms of the outcome. Which is how Eva finds herself racing to figure out the identity of a killer in her midst, and one whose every kill somehow traces back to her.
While as reviewers we often find ourselves questioning:
a) why an author opted for a dual narrative in the first place;
b) especially when the voices are virtually indistinguishable,
this is by no means the case here. Melissa Marr does an eerily brilliant job of deconstructing the mind of a killer, and the voice that comes out is one so genuine that it simply makes this book in more ways than one. Once upon a time, while watching The L Word, my favorite actress of the lot was repeatedly accused of "playing a psycho too well". It was an accusation which always made me bristle, because - my god - that only makes her better. And at long last, I have found said actress's equivalent in writing. It's Melissa Marr's take on a schizophrenic serial killer's perception of reality, with all the (il)logical reasoning one might expect - and a whole lot more one might not expect - from a YA mystery.
Which is why we need so, so much more of it in our lives.
Sure, the final revelation isn't quite as shocking as an Agatha Christie novel - the reader is, in fact, openly allowed to figure it out before the protagonist does - it is still one which brings about an explosive resolution to the story, with all the twists and turns the build-up promises to deliver.
And these twists, these turns, these twisted minds and eerie thoughts all take place in Small Town, Deep South - in just about the perfect setting, in other words, for this type of a story. It's atmospheric, it's foreboding, it's expectation and chill and mounting pressure. It's hard to decide if the setting establishes the plot, or the other way round. Melissa Marr has just married the two so well that it's hard to imagine Made For You taking place anywhere else.
For all thrill-seeking readers, fans of mystery, thrillers or magical realism of any sort, Made For You is my sincerest recommendation. But it is also my sincerest recommendation to read it in broad daylight - just to be on the safe side. It's not exactly horror, but this book makes it easy to argue that an insight into a twisted mind rivals the goriest novels in terms of "I'll just sleep with the lights on tonight".
Consider me hooked on YA mystery.
And Nathaniel Bouchet, but that's completely beside the point.
If you are planning on picking this book up - or if you have already read it - leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought of it. Or you can social-media-stalk us - which is the only kind of stalking we approve of! (Hey, this book is frightening, don't blame us!)
BOOK REVIEW: MADE FOR YOU BY MELISSA MARR
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub