That Night

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jun. 2019. 320p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781492679042.
Gr 10 Up–Balog’s latest novel is a twisting psychological journey into the final days of a sordid, teen love affair. A year after her boyfriend’s suicide, Hailey still can’t move on. Declan didn’t seem suicidal, and there are too many inconsistencies surrounding his death, so she partners with his stepbrother and her best friend Kane to delve into her memories to uncover the truth. All of the components of a great thriller are present: love triangles, betrayal, a suspicious death, unanswered questions, and forgotten memories, but the narrative is stunted, the resolution is unsatisfying, and the characters are one-dimensional yet simultaneously confusing. Hailey’s obsession with Declan may be relatable to teens, but the “weird girl” protagonist pitted against the “hot friend” has already been played to death. Teen marriage and the casual reference to the rhythm method being a reliable form of birth control are bizarre at best, and references to The Great Gatsby are shoehorned in.
VERDICT Readers looking for a psychological thriller with several twists at the end may enjoy parts of this book, but there are better options out there.

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