Top critical review
Good book for a younger teen
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2012
First Impressions: Circle of Silence is yet another book that I was iffy about reading because of reading Dancergirl, which is also written by the same author. I read Dancergirl back when it was released in November of 2011. I don't think I liked Dancergirl as much as I would have if I were younger. To me, it is a book that is meant for a younger teen and I think it is almost borderline Middle Grade. With that said, it wasn't a bad book and since Circle of Silence is Dancergirl's companion novel, I decided to give it a go. I was kind of hoping that this time around the author would spice things up a bit and make things not so predictable.
First 50 Pages: I thought that maybe Circle of Silence would tie into Dancergirl more, but it really doesn't. Both books have the same setting, but the main characters are different. That means anyone could pick up Circle of Silence without having to read Dancergirl, which is kind of nice. I like how they work as two separate novels and each can carry well. With Circle of Silence, I liked how the mystery was there from the beginning and it didn't really let up until the end. The author has vastly improved with her writing and this book had a much higher level of suspense and it makes for a pretty good thriller. I still think that this book and its predecessor are meant for younger readers, and I'll explain more about why I feel that way in the next section.
Characters & Plot: This story follows a girl named Valerie, another student at WiHi who has big dreams of getting into a good college and making something of her life. In order to have an added bonus to her college applications, she is determined to get the chance to run her high school's news crew. Being successful isn't easy for Valerie. Her ex-boyfriend, Jagger, is suddenly on her crew, which she totally didn't expect and he proves to be a distraction. But what is worse is the MP. Nobody knows who they are, but everyone can see the destruction they are causing around the school. What starts off as childish pranks is quickly escalating into something dangerous and much more serious. Valerie begins investigating the MP and as she gains more knowledge and becomes closer to figuring out "who dun it," the pranks get worse someone ends up getting hurt. With time running out, Valerie and the undercover person she sends into the MP are either headed for complete tragedy or relief. The question is, will she figure out the puzzle on time?
I had a really hard time connecting to Valerie as a character. The story is told mostly from her, but there are also snippets of insight from the MP's leader, and those parts I found much more interesting and entertaining. Valerie is your stereotypical "goody two shoes" type of girl and for some reason, she started to get on my nerves. Not only that, but the way that she falls apart around Jagger was aggravating and it caused her to miss a lot of clues that would have helped her figure out who was involved in the MP. I didn't care for Jagger either and I couldn't see what was so attractive about him. I just couldn't form an attachment to either character.
The MP was what kept me reading this book. I can honestly say that I didn't figure out who exactly was involved until the author revealed them. I had some guesses along the way, but if I remember correctly, I was mostly wrong. The identity of the MP does become a little clearer toward the end of the story and for someone who is clever; they should be able to figure it out. So the suspense and all that jazz was there, but the big twist didn't seem all that big once it finally happened.
My biggest issue with Circle of Silence wasn't Valerie or Jagger or the somewhat unexciting climax. My biggest issue was that the story felt so cliche. When I looked back through my review of Dancergirl, I found that I used the word "cliche" in it as well. There is something about each of these books that just feels tacky, especially to an older reader like me. The books have a "Daytime Movie Special" sort of feel to them. That's the best way I know to describe it.
Final Thoughts: Much like Dancergirl, I wouldn't hesitate to give Circle of Silence a recommendation to younger teens. I think that someone in the 11-14 age bracket will enjoy both books, but if you are older, you might want to pass these books by for a more mature teen thriller.