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.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing This is Our Story by Ashley Elston. In addition to the hauntingly beautiful cover (seriously, the shadows of the 5 boys, the deceased one having a hunted deer head and the typography of This is Our Story also saying His Story, it’s just brilliant), the synopsis of this book gives me Raven Boys vibes (only because there are four boy best friends, not because the story seems at all similar). There was a fifth but he mysteriously died when the five of them went into the woods one day. None of the surviving boys are talking although any of them could be the killer. It ends up falling to Kate Marino to solve the case of the River Point Boys and get justice for Grant. I love a good mystery and I have such high hopes for this one! I’m planning on reading it as soon as its delivered!
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own. (via Goodreads)