Dig Two Graves – Gretchen McNeil – ARC Review

Title: Dig Two Graves
Author
: Gretchen McNeil
Genre: YA, Mystery/Thriller
Published
: March 29th, 2022 (Disney Hyperion)
Goodreads


Synopsis: I did my part, BFF. Now it’s your turn.

Seventeen-year-old film noir fan Neve Lanier is a girl who just wants to be seen, but doesn’t really fit in anywhere. When Neve is betrayed by her best friend, Yasmin, at the end of the school year, she heads off to a girl’s empowerment camp feeling like no one will ever love her again. So when she grabs the attention of the beautiful, charismatic Diane, she falls right under her spell, and may accidentally promise to murder Diane’s predatory step-brother, Javier, in exchange for Diane murdering Yasmin. But that was just a joke…right?

Wrong. When Yasmin turns up dead, Diane comes calling, attempting to blackmail Neve into murdering Javier. Stalling for time, Neve pretends to go along with Diane’s plan until she can find a way out that doesn’t involve homicide. But as she gets to know Javier – and falls for him – she realizes that everything Diane told her is a lie. Even worse, she discovers that Yasmin probably wasn’t Diane’s first victim. And unless Neve can stop her, she won’t be the last.

Review:
Thank you to the publisher, Disney Hyperion, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After a betrayal by her best friend Yasmin basically made her the school outcast, Neve Lanier finds herself at a girl’s empowerment camp for the summer as her family hopes that it will help her. The girls at the camp are much nicer than she expected, and she makes friends much more easily than she has ever been able to before. She is particularly drawn to Diane, a beautiful and charismatic girl despite warnings from some of the others to be careful. Diane tells her about her predatory step-brother Javier harassing her and Neve tells her about Yasmin’s betrayal, which leads to them jokingly promising to murder each other’s bullies. Except, when Neve returns home after camp, Yasmin has actually been murdered and Diane is now blackmailing her to hold up her end of the deal. With time quickly running out, Neve has to play along as she desperately searches for a way to expose Diane. But as she digs deeper, getting to know Javier as part of her ruse, she begins to realize that this is not the first time Diane has done this, and if she doesn’t figure something out soon, Neve might be the next victim.

It took me much longer to get through this book than it should have taken considering it’s barely 350 pages. The plot itself and the concept of the thriller was a very promising one, but the execution was somewhat lacking. The mood was typical of a YA mystery/thriller novel and it was quite easy to get caught up in the story. Pacing was one thing this book definitely did right, and it didn’t drag at any point, nor did it veer off plot – it was action-packed throughout. YA novels of this genre also usually have the main characters running around, trying to solve the mystery, often for no other reason than they want to instead of leaving it to the police, so this book was a refreshing change in the aspect that Neve actually wants nothing to do with it, but is forced to take things into her own hands because she has no proof and the police don’t believe her story.

Neve was a very hard character to relate to and for the most part, I just found her to be incredibly annoying. The girl has terrible taste in friends, she even says that Diane reminds her of Yasmin and then goes ahead and befriends her anyway, which was not a promising start to the story. Then there is Neve’s love for film noir, which more or less exists only to give her a connection to Javier, and didn’t add to the plot in any substantial way. The constant references and quotes felt out of place and rather unnecessary.

As for the mystery itself, the twists were well orchestrated, though it became a little predictable towards the end as I felt like the plot had been heavily foreshadowing the last twist for atleast a couple of chapters before it happened. Then again, I read a lot of thrillers, so maybe I’ve just become better at picking out these tropes?

Overall, this was an ok read. It didn’t really work for me as a whole, but there were some elements of it that I enjoyed. I might look up a few of this author’s works at some point, since the reviews sound pretty decent. This is a book I would recommend if you’re in the mood for a thriller that doesn’t require you to think too much, especially if you’re not particularly fussy about there being relatable characters.

Dig Two Graves releases on March 29th, 2022.


Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!


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