Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

Gone Too Fargone too far cover
By: Natalie D. Richards

Publication: January 6th, 2015

Genre(s): Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Find it: ~Goodreads~Barnes & Noble~Amazon~

My rating: ⭐ ⭐

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.  Piper Woods can’t wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She’s sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone’s sure it’s suicide, but Piper remembers Stella’s name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse. Drowning in secrets she doesn’t want to keep, Piper’s fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished..

 Gone Too Far started out with an addictive pace, and I was waiting for it anxiously to become a “smart, edgy thriller” as the quote on the cover reads.

It didn’t.

Half of the book went by, and that’s when my problems, in the form of blue sticky notes and angry handwriting were slapped into the pages of Gone Too Far. Everything that bugged me was recorded. 14 sticky notes are officially embedded in my copy of the book, and those were for major annoyances.

One of the problems I had was purely our main character, Piper. She has the power to punish people around her by texting an anonymous figure who wants to “team up” with her to take down the school’s popular kids. Piper does this not once, but multiple times, taking down people who already have many problems in their life, denying that they’re people and human and are loved by someone, only looking through eyes of hate and revenge. Piper sees the effects of what she’s done-a teacher lost her job, a kid’s college career is completely destroyed, and those are the worst, even if all of the victims are humiliated. And yes, I mean that word: victims. 

Throughout the novel, Piper portrays herself as the victim. She constantly justifies her actions by telling herself that she’s doing this for Stella–a girl who committed suicide because of bullying, a girl that Piper ignored in the hallway, a girl who Piper thought was just a “popular kid” until she died. In my opinion, it was never really about making things “right” for Stella, it was really about Piper giving herself a reason to inflict pain and suffering, to go after revenge, and then to have an excuse to quiet her guilty thoughts with.

All the wrong Piper caused made me mad. Sure, she was treated like a nobody, bullied, and teased, but that DOESN’T mean she has to keep the chain of meanness going by bringing “justice” to her classmates. Honestly, all the secrets she revealed about people would’ve come out anyway, given time. It was not Piper’s job to administrate punishment. And it bothers me that she pretty much got away with it and played victim throughout the whole novel.

Let’s add in Nick, our love interest, who’s a bit of prince charming. You know, that perfect popular guy, that one who’s never supposed to fall for the shy girl behind the camera (Piper). But he does anyway, and it shakes the social chain. It shakes Piper. She was always saying how they were from different worlds, with different interests, never even giving the poor guy a chance. And come on, Piper? Different worlds? Try being Romeo and Juliet for a day. Just try.

Nick felt too perfect to me. Sure, the touch of romance lightened my mood as the reader, since things like sex tapes, drugs, and general lying and backstabbing were going on, but Nick just felt like a typical love interest in a typical love story. And guess what? The romance doesn’t even make sense, because Piper is targeting Nick’s friends. She’s hurting them, making them suffer, and Nick barely gets mad at her! If someone I liked was going after my friends, I’d be angry at them. I’d reconsider my feelings for them. Nick kisses her in public just because she says she’s going to try to fix things. I’m not condemning forgiveness or redemption, but I really do think that reaction is unrealistic, especially since he’d just found out that Piper was behind the humiliation of his friends, that she had chose them for punishment.

One final thing I’ll point out before discussing the climax of the book is that Piper’s “anonymous” contact who’s carrying out the punishments and humiliations actually has no good motive. I know who this person is, as it is a central character, and by knowing their background and past situations they’re involved in, this person does not have the time, money, energy, and reason to punish anyone. Why would they want to get thrown in jail for punishing a few people who have wronged them, when they have so much else to lose? I’m trying not to cross the spoiler line here, but I really wanted to touch upon this fact before continuing.

Lastly, the climax of the book had me so mad. It’s in a boy’s basketball locker room, a fight between Piper and one of her classmates. The ending is what makes me mad:

“I pull the first thing I find off the floor, one of those sticks. I don’t even know how to hold it, but there isn’t time. No time. I pull back and swing at Jackson’s head.

The impact jars my shoulder, sends me down first. Jackson’s is still whipped back from the impact. His chin dips forward. Heavy-lidded eyes look down. Blood dribbles over his chin and drips onto my shirt. My stomach curdles. Jackson sways. And I watch him fall.”

Um, hold up. What kind of stick are we talking about here? And where did it come from? A tree branch? A plain stick? Where did it come from and why was it lying there so conveniently close to our main character only after she has a brutal fight? And why would this stick be in a boy’s basketball locker room anyway? I felt that this easy end to the fight totally sucks out all the excitement and anticipation the climax was supposed to deliver.

So, about 15 pages later I finally figure out that it’s a hockey stick. And, call me a skeptic or a critic, but I’m still thinking it’s kind of silly that someone randomly leaves a hockey stick on a locker room floor. Sure, it’s possible and believable, but I don’t read books because I want some half-hearted climax where someone gets bashed in the head, I read books because I want the author to be creative, to thrill and wow me with a creative climax and other situations. I want them to blow me away, to do something that’s never been done before, to make it hard for their characters, to make things complex, different, and beautiful. And honestly, with that ending to tie it up, I just didn’t see those things in Gone Too Far. 

~MC

 

 

 

 

 

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