Complicit By Stephanie Kuehn

I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.

Complicit By Stephanie KuehnComplicit by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin's Press on June 24, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.


Complicit is a book that tells you one story, and then kicks the foundation out from under you so that you aren’t sure what the story is or who should be telling it.  Jamie is a good kid with a tragic past.  It is the classic trope of one sibling “making it” while the other spirals out of control in response to tragic circumstances.  Even though Jamie’s life is now very comfortable, his broken relationship with his sister still leaves a scar that never seems to go away.  Complicit tells the story of Jamie’s struggle to piece together a past that he really can’t remember.   As a mystery/thriller, it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Everything is very shadowy so that you aren’t really sure what is going on.  Is the narrator unreliable or is the narrator the only sane one?  I like that kind of structure because that off-kilter feeling really keeps me engaged.

I recognize that many people were blown away by the big twist, and it was a good one, but the issues I had were with the rushed ending and what seemed to me be a too easy acceptance of the truth.  I was also a little turned off by the way Cate was written, as nothing more than the “crazy, slutty girl” that seems to have reached almost archetypal status in certain veins of YA.  Like an evil MPDG, she comes into town, destroys everything she touches, and leaves again.  Although I know her character was more than that, and that Complicit wasn’t really her story, I think this book would have benefited from making her a little more well rounded.  In truth, I think the whole book would have benefited from a little more fleshing out of all of the characters.  I felt like Jamie and Cate’s parents needed more development, as did Jamie himself, to a certain extent.  I find that when books have big twists, it’s almost as if the authors are so afraid of giving anything away, that they end up giving the characters short shrift.  That being said, it was a very quick and engaging read.  I can see why so many people have been riveted by this book.



About Stephanie Kuehn

I’m a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. My very first job was working in one of those bookstores.
Passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. I currently live in Northern California with my family and our wild menagerie of pets. CHARM & STRANGE and COMPLICIT are out now. DELICATE MONSTERS will be out in 2015.


3 responses to “Complicit By Stephanie Kuehn

  1. I’ve seen a lot of 5 star reviews for this one so it’s refreshing to see a bit more about the book and a less than amazing review. I’ve yet to read this author though I’ve seen great things. I’m a tad scared to because of the hype and it’s never fun to be disappointed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I feel like I have a clearer image of this book 🙂

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