I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading So Close to You by Rachel Carter. It was the first ARC by a debut author that Harper Teen sent me in the mail. I’ve received three others from Harper, but because they weren’t debuts, I didn’t want to review them here, so I started a separate blog for those (www.datingliterature.wordpress.com). Anyways, this was my first debut ARC, so I really wanted to do it justice. An easy task considering how awesome the book turned out to be.
Set in the tiny town of Montauk, New York, Lydia Bentley, an aspiring truth-seeking journalist, has heard conspiracy theories about the mysterious Montauk Project since birth. Stories that her grandfather forcefully believed, stories that she refused to accept as truth. Her grandfather grew up without a father, who suddenly disappeared with no explanation when Montauk was used as a military base during World War II. He always believed that his father’s disappearance had everything to do with the Montauk Project. But he never had physical proof, only a tattered old journal his father left him containing cloudy clues but no answers. Lydia’s grandfather let the quest for truth consume his entire life, dragging Lydia, the only person left who tolerated his crazy theories, to the old base whenever he got the chance. Lydia never believed what her grandfather believed, but she wanted him to find peace and truth. One day, she finds herself in the underground chambers of the old military base, the place that everyone who believed suspected to be the home of the Montauk Project. She goes looking for answers and winds up in a dark room with a shadowy stranger and she picks up the quest for answers where her grandfather left off.
The back cover of my copy says, “The compelling romance of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE meets the imaginative suspense of BEFORE I FALL“. Now, I have never read Before I Fall or The Time Traveler’s Wife BUT I can assure you that Carter’s story had plenty of “compelling romance” and it certainly had some “imaginative suspense”. Lydia has to fight her way through a completely new and, actually, old world surrounded by strangers who aren’t that far from who she is. I’m going to try to describe this book and what it meant for me without giving away any spoilers because I really don’t like that. That might make what I am trying to say confusing, so bear with me. For me, this book was about the dedication to one’s family and the importance of knowing all the facts and getting to the truth of the matter, something that is rarely easy to do. It was also about falling in love against seemingly impossible factors.
Lydia wants “to be a journalist because it forces you to face the truth, even if it might not always be pretty.” Truth is a big deal to her, as it is to me. I am currently going to school to study journalism because I like to write and I like to read and I like people but also because I think understanding truth and reality is crucial to being really alive. And that’s what journalists do. And that’s what Lydia does. She searches and searches and searches to find the truth because it is important to her and to the people she loves. She does this because she believes that “the truth is worth knowing no matter what”, which is an idea that I share with her.
So she’s searching for answers and trying to unlock the mystery behind her grandfather’s grief and along the way she meets a tall, dark and handsome, which is just the way with Young Adult fiction. I mean, really, why else do you think I read YA? But honestly, Lydia’s romance with this tall, dark and handsome was the most honest, and truly different YA love story that I’ve ever read, next to John Green and a couple others. It was refreshing and exciting and mysterious as they tried to break down the barriers between them, both successfully and unsuccessfully, discovering that some barriers aren’t meant to be broken. So even though this is a fantasy-mystery book, aspects of Lydia’s romance ring true in real life. Road blocks exist in every relationship, but it’s up to the people in them to dissemble those road blocks or to move on. I really liked reading how her love story developed and dealt with hard stuff like that.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book to readers who love YA, science-fiction-y mystery love stories with EXCRUCIATING CLIFFHANGERS (I’m looking at you, Carter). It was an awesome story that I will probably read again. Oh and did I mention that it’s the first in a series? Yeah, you can bet that Rachel Carter has earned herself one more avid reader.
ALSO: If you are really interested, here are pictures, straight from Rachel Carter’s website, of the real-life Camp Hero (the military base in the book). In case I didn’t mention it before, this story uses rea-life WWII rumors about Camp Hero. So cool! http://rachel-carter.com/camp-hero-
Rating: 9 out of 10. Really fun read!