Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! Today I’m excited to be part of another TBR and Beyond Tours book tour – this time for Wendy Heard’s latest release – Dead End Girls. As always, make sure to check out the other exciting posts for this blog tour over on the TBR and Beyond Tours website or by clicking the graphic below! Without any further ado, here’s my review for this exciting thriller!
Title: Dead End Girls
Author: Wendy Heard
Genre: Thriller, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.
The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?
This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.
If you know me, then you know I’m not a huge thriller reader. That being said, I love thrillers featuring queer main characters, especially sapphic main characters, so I’ve been really excited to read this book for a while. Dead End Girls follows Maud, who has spent the last two years of her life carefully planning out how she’s going to fake her own death and start a new life on the other side of the world. Everything is going perfectly to plan, until her step-cousin, Frankie, stumbles upon Maude’s plans, and they want Maude to bring them along too.
This was such a fast-paced read – and that was ultimately one of my favourite things about the book. I have been in such a huge reading slump as of late, but I was thrilled (haha, get it!) to zoom through this whole book in one afternoon. I really could not put it down. A lot of the book counts on the whole “needing to get things done before a deadline” plot and I think that it really worked in the story’s favour, Throw in some exciting twists and turns and my need to figure out how everything was going to pan out and I was hooked!
Another thing I really loved about this book – and what really makes me want to pick up another of Wendy Heard’s novels is her characters. I really loved the dimension that both Maud and Frankie – as well as the side characters – all had. I was so intrigued about both of them and their lives leading up to the moment. Frankie’s back story in particular, which we see in snapshots throughout the book, left me on edge the entire time. And I was always so impressed by Maude – she is one of the most interesting and cunning characters I’ve read about in a while.
Not only that, but there is some great representation in here! Maude is a lesbian – and she explicitly uses the world several times throughout the book which is so great to see, and sadly still happens all to little. We also discover throughout the book that Frankie is bisexual and we see them discovering and exploring their gender identity and expression. I thought this was really great in particular and I loved the almost nonchalant switching of pronouns for Frankie partway through.
Unfortunately, I can’t rate it a five stars, though. Although I do understand that it is integral to the plot, but I just could not get past Maude and Frankie being step-cousins and having a romance blossom between them. Yes, I understand that they are not technically related, but it still really gave me the ick, and I think because of that, I couldn’t get on board with the relationship in this book, no matter how well Wendy Heard wrote it.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book and it’s definitely encouraged me to pick up more thrillers in the future – particularly those written by Wendy Heard, and I’ve already got my eye on She’s Too Pretty to Burn!
About the Author
Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads.com, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.