Review: The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore

Cover image of "The Stalker Chronicles"Sophomore Cammie Bliss has long been labeled a stalker by her peers, but when a cute new boy named Toby arrives at her small town high school, Cammie has a chance to be “normal.” Trouble is, she can’t really help herself and she’s up to her old tricks of “intense observation and following” pretty quick. Making things worse, her younger brother is dating one of the most popular girls in the school, her parents have separated, and her dad has begun to watch their house most nights. Cammie has simply got to figure out why she behaves the way she does, and end it once and for all. *

Back in February, I blogged about receiving a big batch of ARCs in the mail from whatchYAreading? and promised to review each ARC as I read it (as close to the publication date as possible). Earlier this week, on March 27, The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore was published, and here is my promised, honest review.

PLOT

I think the summary does a pretty good job at letting you know what the plot is going to be all about, except maybe it places too much emphasis on Cammie’s parents’ divorce and her dad also having stalker tendencies. I honestly wanted more of this plot arc, and felt disappointed at the end when basically nothing came of it. However, I’ve got the distinct feeling there will be more to Cammie’s story in future books. Or perhaps I’m just really hoping for that because  nothing was adequately resolved by the final page. From the book summary, from “Cammie has simply got to figure out why she behaves the way she does, and end it once and for all,” I really expected a conclusion at the end of this novel. I was disappointed without one. The book ends, quite literally, in the moments before something more happens in regards to her parents’ divorce, and when everything in high school–things with Toby, things with her brother, and things with her best friend–have hit this unsettling calm point. An, I think, obviously unresolved point; a point that leaves me with the distinct “calm before the storm” feeling and I won’t lie, I’m a little bummed I didn’t get the storm and only got the lead-up.

And because I thought it several times while reading, I’m just going to say it here, too: I don’t understand why, with Toby, Cammie decides to change from “stalker” into… well, whatever might be more “normal” behavior for a teen girl  pursuing her crush. Because that is essentially the main plot of this novel: how Cammie pursues Toby. Perhaps Cammie is a little over-the-top (she does, at one point, go through his garbage), but I’m not sure “normal” is particularly good or interesting.

THE NARRATOR

Cammie is a very well-written narrator, which is good because I spent the majority of this novel only inside her head. I don’t mean that in the typical first-person narrator way (this is a first-person narrator), but Cammie doesn’t do a whole lot of talking to other people. This is because of her casting as a stalker. She spends a lot of time on the sidelines just watching people and narrating inside her own head about it.

Cammie’s narrative includes anecdotes from the present day revolving around Toby; her brother, Henry; and her parents’ divorce. But mixed in amongst this present-day plot arc is Cammie’s telling of prior stalking incidents, incidents that she self-admits have built up this horrible reputation for her. What I think is always kind of a thing with first-person narrators is that level of unreliability they create within their own story. Each person has their own perception of how events unfold and relationships grow, and within that is an unavoidable creation of unreliable narration. However, when Cammie is narrating, both past and present, but especially past, she only presents “the facts”.  I never felt like she had much of an emotional attachment to herself, to what she had done or the reputation she’d created for herself. Which doesn’t make me question her much as a narrator — getting the facts, the chronological sequence of events, right isn’t that hard. It’s when perceptions and emotions are brought into play with the facts, that her character would be further developed and her motivations deeper understood by me, the reader. As it was, I felt like I was getting a very dry history lesson. I can’t say I understand why Cammie is a stalker other than she has always been one. Of course, I don’t think Cammie knows why by the end of the book, either, even though that’s the question she set out to answer from the very first page.

I will say that Cammie does have some very interesting insights into confronting her own reputation, insights that are earnest and had me, at one point, exclaiming out loud, “Yes, exactly!”

FINAL THOUGHTS

Once again, I’ve found a book with a Hester Prynne reference. It’s brief, it comes late in the book, but it’s there. This has quickly become the thing that annoys me most in YA novels with female leads.  I give a detailed explanation as to why this bothers me so much in my review of Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler over at MHLit. I won’t repeat myself here, but seriously, a Hester Prynne comparison grates my nerves.

There are several meaningful threads of teenager-ness woven into this story, and the interconnectedness of reputation and relationships is particularly interesting. I do hope that Moore publishes more books in The Stalker Chronicles because I think Cammie deserves to sort out herself and her family, and I think the reader deserves to know what happens, really happens, to everyone as the deal with toughness of what’s going on.

Rating: ★ ★

* Summary from barnesandnoble.com

What does that rating mean?

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