Personal Thoughts: Okay, so it’s taken me a really long time to properly gather my thoughts for my review of This is Our Story by Ashley Elston and it’s for good reason. This is Our Story was one of my favorite books I read in 2016 and I wanted to write a rave review that could do this story justice. Since this is my personal thoughts section, I’m going to start by talking a little bit about the cover (which I’ve also talked about numerous times on my BookTube channel- PS I’m so happy so many of you have read and loved this book since I started pushing it down your throats!). Obviously the majestic white porcelain deer head against a cerulean blue background appeals to my aesthetic so I was initially drawn in by this cover. Then I read the synopsis and discovered even more brilliance behind the cover design. You see, This is Our Story is about a girl on a mission to identify Grant’s killer and serve him justice. Grant is a boy who goes hunting in the woods with his 4 best friends but unfortunately, he doesn’t make it out alive. The cover depicts five shadows (representing each of the boys who went hunting that morning with the deer head positioned over who we can only assume is Grant- the hunted. As if this weren’t clever enough, the letters “his” in “this” and “story” in “story” are a darker shade of grey than the rest of the title because while this is the story of Kate solving the case, it’s also Grant’s or his story. Another reason I was drawn into this story is because it’s about a group of boy best friends dubbed the River Point boys living in a small town revolving around a mystery so there were some initial Raven Boys vibes for me. So much love for this book<3
Plot Summary: I began describing the plot above but I’ll reiterate it here. This is Our Story follows a girl named Kate who works as an intern for her local DA. She becomes involved in a case surrounding her new classmates who’ve been transferred out of their private school after a tragic event. The five River Point boys, all from the town’s wealthiest families, are longtime best friends who are known for their wild parties. One morning after an out of control event of theirs, the boys head into the woods to hunt, only one of them doesn’t make it out alive and none of the surviving boys are talking. As Kate delves deeper into the case, she begins to uncover secrets and truths she never expected to find. And as she begins to close in on Grant’s killer, her life and the lives of others are suddenly at risk.
Critique: This is Our Story is one of the most well crafted young adult thriller novels I’ve ever read. Because the story is told from the perspective of a girl working for the DA’s office, we’re given all of the evidence in the case as it’s discovered. If you read closely and pay attention to even the most minor clues, you’ll have the opportunity to solve the case. While many readers appreciate the element of surprise while reading thrillers (and trust me, there’s a very high chance that you won’t be able to pick out the killer), I have never felt more satisfied in being able to predict a portion of the outcome. Elston makes you feel as though you’re a detective working to solve the case so the advances the reader makes feel incredibly gratifying. It’s enjoyable to spend the vast duration of the story in our main character Kate’s head. She’s a driven young woman and despite potential fallout from her personal involvement in the case, she’s hellbent on exacting justice. While Kate is definitely a smart cookie, she does make some very questionable decisions which adds to the believability that she’s a high school student. Kate’s perspective is interlaced with our killer’s brief thoughts every couple of chapters. While reading, it was initially very difficult to distinguish one River Point boy from another which I had originally thought was a flaw in the story until I read on and realized that this is exactly what Elston wanted. The boy’s lawyer advises them to be seen as a group to avoid a single person being charged and they do a great job of portraying themselves as a collective group as opposed to individual people. I’m not going to get into my detailed thoughts about each boy because the reader must discover their traits as the story progresses. I’ve heard some criticism regarding the pacing of the story in that it tends to be a bit slow in the middle, but I would have to disagree. The characters are strong enough to keep the reader invested during those seemingly slower moments and each page is building toward the big payoff ending that Elston so flawlessly delivers. P.S. The last thing I want to say is that I adore Kate’s best friend Reagan and her brilliant Halloween costume designs!
Do I Recommend?: Pretty obviously yes! As I said, This is Our Story is one of my favorite young adult thrillers ever written and INSTANTLY purchased Elston’s other books upon finishing. She is without a doubt an auto-buy author for me after reading this book.