Title: Missing, Presumed Dead
Author: Emma Berquist
Release Date: 21st May 2019
My Rating: 3 Stars
“With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club. But Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge. Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.”
This was a fun supernatural murder mystery YA thriller. When I first read the blurb I thought it sounded mildly interesting and was considering giving it a go, but then I looked closer and realised it was queer and it instantly jumped to the top of my TBR. It was what I needed post-slump – super bingeable and easy. Unfortunately it wasn’t a new favourite or everything I wanted it to be, but nonetheless it was an entertaining read and if you love YA thrillers, might be worth a go. This was one of those really solid 3 star reads, where you enjoy the content but had specific problems with it and felt like it didn’t reach it’s potential. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable because it totally was, it’s just not going to be making it onto any favourites lists.
The main thing that didn’t quite sit right to me was the romance. Lexi is alive and vulnerable. She’s closed off and hurting. Jane is a lonely ghost who just broke up with her boyfriend before she died and misses human interaction and contact. This definitely isn’t healthy circumstances for a budding relationship. I get that there was chemistry between them but I would much rather they realise that although they care deeply for each other, a long term relationship couldn’t work between them. All I kept thinking is that a secret relationship between a ghost who stays 17 and a person who will grow old just won’t work. When Lexi is 50 and she’s sick of not even being able to talk to her partner in public for the last 30 years, whilst Jane still looks 17, is that going to work? I don’t want to get too spoilery but the romance just seems a bit unhealthy to me at times and I just wasn’t left with that happy, fuzzy feeling that you get when a cute relationship falls into place.
The other thing that hindered my enjoyment a bit was the fact that some things didn’t feel very fleshed out. She worked at a club where there was a large cast of characters, but we met most of them briefly without much detail and they all sort of merged into one in my brain (Urie, Jordan, Adam, Georgie…), and I couldn’t remember who was who. This meant that when plot twists came involving specific characters they didn’t have as much impact as they should have.
To add to that, some of the characters seemed rooted in stereotype – our main character was Alexandra Ivanovich, a bisexual MC with Russian heritage. This should have been great but she was that gay ‘I’m scary and look like a bloke with a shaved head and tattoos’ stereotype, with added ‘I’m not a nice person, don’t get too close’ trope. This might just be because I hate this trope (when characters shut people out and they end up making things so much worse for themselves, it drives me bonkers), but I felt like the characterisation could have been more expansive. It’s hard to feel for a character when you can see so many ways they could solve their problems and they’re just avoiding them.
All this aside, I did still enjoy my time reading this book. The premise was really interesting- there were lots of different powers and I enjoyed seeing the way they worked. It was really creative. It kind of reminded me of a YA City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. I believe this is only Berquist’s second novel so there is definitely potential there for development and growth, but this one just didn’t feel like it was quite there yet. It was really entertaining though and I flew through it, I just think it lacked some development perhaps needed some more time and work.