A LINE IN THE DARK by MALINDA LO
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
As of the writing of this post, it is officially Halloween, so happy Halloween, everyone! Don’t mind the snow outside. For my final review for Spooky Month, we’re going to talk about A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo. Yet another book that everyone seemed to hate, but I loved. A Line in the Dark is about the dark side of friendship, toxic relationships between girls, and what can happen when someone steps over that proverbial line. It follows high school student, Jess Wong, as she descends deeper and deeper into a mystery surrounding her best friend girlfriend.
That’s about as specific as I’d like to be regarding the plot. A Line in the Dark, being a thriller, is best read without any prior knowledge. I wouldn’t even recommend reading the synopsis, because what you see isn’t likely to be what actually happens in the book.
All you need to know here is that I liked this book. I liked it a lot. Here’s why.
First and foremost, this is a dark book in which many of the characters are lesbians. This isn’t a coming-out story or a story about being gay. It’s a thriller with lesbians in it. It was so nice to read about gay characters in a genre beyond your standard coming out story, however dark this particular story may be. I liked Jess as a character, how twisty and angry she was. Being inside her head made the narrative fly by, and I read this book over the course of a couple of days. I used to read that quickly when I was younger. Not so much now, but A Line in the Dark kept me hooked from the beginning.
In addition to Jess, there’s Angie, her best friend, and Margot, Angie’s girlfriend. Margot is up to no good from the very beginning and readers remain suspicious of her throughout. And for good reason. She’s kind of a jerk. As is almost everyone else in this novel. Jess is a jerk, Margot is a jerk, her friends are jerks. No one is wholly good and that gray area is where the book really shines. There are a lot of twists and turns in this slim volume, and around the halfway mark is where things get really interesting. There’s a perspective shift smack dab in the middle of the book. Yes, you go from a first-person narrative with Jess to a third-person narrative, featuring police transcripts and newspaper clippings. This hard shift in perspective and tone may throw some readers off, but I liked it. It brought a sort of cold distance to Jess’s character that made her chilling to read about.
As I mentioned above, A Line in the Dark is a pretty polarizing book. I can understand why, given its tendency to withhold information from readers. It doesn’t explain a lot of things, and not every twist that happens make sense, but honestly? I didn’t care. I just enjoyed being along for the ride that was this book. It’s not a very long novel and the pacing is such that you’ll fly through it just like I did.
If you’re looking for a fun YA thriller to pass the time, A Line in the Dark might be just the thing!