‘Sadie’ targets revenge and emotions

“Sadie” isn’t any sort of soft book.  It’s raw and unsettling, bringing a whole new light to young adult thrillers.  If you’re on the hunt for a fictional true crime story, that very much could be real, this may be it for you. 

The novel by Courtney Summers follows the story of Sadie Hunter, a broken but courageous teenager who is seeking revenge for the brutal murder of her younger sister, Mattie. 

Summers opens her story with a powerful statement: “And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.” 

The book is time lined with alternating chapters between Sadie and West McCray, a Podcast host turned investigative journalist.  Sadie’s perspective in the past, and West’s current race to find Sadie – who, on her revenge journey, has gone missing – creates the suspense that inevitably brings the book to its peak.

The topics covered require a heavy trigger warning for readers. While the book embodies realistic experiences instead of glazing over or romanticizing them, they can be difficult and hard to swallow.  The book discusses and describes murder, drug abuse, child abuse, child neglect and a handful of other traumatic events.  The scenes depicting these situations aren’t incredibly detailed or direct, but the aura the book creates is enough to make you more than ache for the characters.

Even though it’s a book that unintentionally makes you sympathetic towards its characters, I found myself disliking certain (and sometimes all) aspects of a character.  Not because they were poorly created or written, but because the characters were making big decisions without much care in the outcomes.  This made me realize how simple it was to get completely enveloped in the story.  The weight between the characters, their decisions, and the conclusions creates a larger dynamic that leaves even more unsettling thoughts.  Dramatic irony plays a large role in the mystery, and that’s what leads to all the mixed feelings while reading.

As much as “Sadie” is pulsating enough to make you want to read it whole, I wouldn’t recommend it.  It has the ability to target a lot of emotions, and that can often leave you feeling at a loss or empty once you’re done reading. 

Summers take on a concept that is often seen as overdone, but does it in a way that is both original and truthful. Whether a thriller is something you generally reach for or not, “Sadie” can open your eyes to a world you may know nothing about.