Review: Pasadena

Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith is an entertaining young adult novel that’s a compilation of a mystery- thriller and teenage drama.

I had some issues with this novel, but let me start out by saying that I did enjoy reading it. I did. It’s a quick read with interesting characters, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Jude’s best friend Maggie’s body is found dead in a swimming pool. Everyone has a different opinion about the cause of death — accident, suicide, or murder. With Joey’s help, Jude investigates Maggie’s death and unravels secrets in the process.

This novel is more than a story about a dead teenager. It’s about friendship and all of the traumatic crap we have to deal both at home and among our friends. There’s an element of peer pressure because not every character in this novel is into casual sex, drugs, and alcohol. The socioeconomic levels in this circle of friends are broad. Some of the teens live with two wealthy parents in a big house complete with a pool house while others have divorced parents who are dating a slim ball you don’t trust, so you have to lock yourself in your bedroom when he’s home.

What I liked about this novel is that the narrative voice sounded like an authentic gossipy teenager. It dealt with serious topics such as suicide, underage drinking, drugs, teenage sex, and STDs. Combine that with sarcasm and lots of teenage drama, and you have an entertaining novel.

This is a quick read that you can finish in a couple of hours. I was expecting more suspense. It’s hard to develop characters and a mystery plot in such a short novel unless it’s tightly written. This one is only 240 pages, which made it feel like a novella, and it still felt like the pacing was too slow. There’s too much filler that I didn’t think added to the story. That space could have been used to develop the plot and characters more to give the story more depth. There were times when I read a paragraph and thought So what? Move on.

Some of the characters were stereotypical such as Maggie who was beautiful and popular, but she tended to be an attention-seeking slut. Most of the characters either drank or got high, but usually it was both. There was a lot of discussion about fashion and who hates whom. I loved Jude and Joey’s friendship, although Jude took advantage of Joey. He was the ideal friend, but underappreciated. He’d show up at Jude’s house with her favorite coffee and chauffeur her around town. Who doesn’t want a friend like that?

Overall, it’s an enjoyable read. Some people may love this book. I liked it, but I’m just not in love with it.

I obtained a copy of this ARC from Penguin Random House’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.
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