Lost Girls

Lost Girls

by Merrie Destefano

Paperback

$9.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Wednesday, November 21 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633756052
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 01/03/2017
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 5.77(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Born in the Midwest, former magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time. www.merriedestefano.com

Read an Excerpt

Lost Girls


By Merrie Destefano, Heather Howland

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2016 Merrie Destefano
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-606-9


CHAPTER 1

I remember last night perfectly.

I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn't do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street.

I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift's latest album.

That was my yesterday.

The problem is, everyone, from my parents to my teachers to the police, says that stuff didn't happen yesterday.

It happened last year.

I went to sleep with music playing, curled up on my bed, and wrapped in the afghan Grams knitted for me when she was on chemo.

I woke up in a ditch, half-buried in a pile of leaves. I was shivering and wet, a soft rain falling, icy drops hitting me in the face and running down my neck. Trees towered overhead, black branches scratching the sky, wind howling, and from somewhere nearby came the muted sounds of traffic.

I sat up, confused and scared, grogginess giving way to an intense adrenaline rush.

Then I screamed, louder than I thought I could. The sound ripped out of my lungs and wouldn't stop; it went on and on until I thought I would collapse because I knew I couldn't breathe and scream at the same time. And then — when I was sure I would fall forward, bent over at the waist, my lungs empty and spots dancing before my eyes — then I found some way to yell again. At first my shouts were primal and there were no words, just terror and pain and a black pit in my stomach that wouldn't allow me to have conscious thoughts.

I began to cry the same thing, over and over.

"Help! Somebody help me!"

I tried to stand, but the gully was so slanted that I kept falling back to my knees, every stumble forcing me to become aware of another injury — the raw skin on my wrists and ankles, covered with dried blood and stinging with each drop of rain; the muscles in my legs sore and weak, like I'd been running for days; the soles of my feet aching, my tennis shoes ripped and stained with mud.

I stretched out my arms, latching onto tree roots to gain my balance, and I pulled myself up the incline, foot by foot. Fingers now coated with mud, I perched on the edge of a highway, nearly blinded by headlights whenever a car sped past.

There I stood, waving my arms and screaming again, not knowing that my hair was matted or that there was blood and dirt on my clothes or that my photo had been on the news for the past two weeks.

Lost girl. Disappeared on her way home from school. Anyone with information, please contact the Santa Madre police department.

Two cars drove past, headlights splashing me with brilliant light. I hadn't realized until now that the sun tipped on the edge of the world, ready to disappear, or that twilight shadows were already stretching across the horizon. Great pockets of violet darkness yawned between each pair of lights that hurtled toward me, greedy fingers of darkness that wanted me to tumble back into that gully and remain hidden.

Please, somebody stop and help me.

I was screaming again and some sort of weird survival panic took over.

I walked into the middle of the two-lane southbound road and stood there.

Go ahead, run me over. I dare you.

Wait, what was I doing?

Several cars spun to a stop, skidding sideways, tires squealing, metal crashing metal and rubber burning. The old me, the girl who fell asleep listening to Taylor sing about a broken heart, never would have done this. What was wrong with me?

My heart thundered in my chest, but I refused to move, even when the wreckage screeched closer and closer, fenders crunching, bumpers twisting, windshields shattering. I stared all the passengers in the eye, glancing from one face to the next, coolly noting that none of them were hurt — nothing beyond a bump or a bruise.

You. Will. Stop. And. Help. Me.

Still the wreckage surged forward. I merely lifted one hand, palm up, signaling for them to stop. Like I was a traffic cop or something.

Everything finally slid to a stop, a few feet away from me.

Tears coursed down my cheeks and I began to shake uncontrollably. I sank to my knees, truly myself again. Frightened and alone and lost.

"Help me," I begged, then buried my face in my hands.

Car doors opened. A strange cacophony of voices tumbled out, some yelling, some speaking in hushed tones.

"What's going on?"

"Is that the missing girl from the news?"

"9-1-1, we have an emergency here —"

"Honey, you're gonna be okay, don't worry —"

An elderly woman with white hair and bright, pink lipstick pulled me close and draped her coat over me. When I glanced up I saw blood on her forehead, but she didn't seem worried about herself. She smiled down at me, her face a map of connected wrinkles.

"We're gonna get you home to your parents," she said. "Do you want to call them?" She handed me her cell phone, but my fingers were shaking too much to dial. I told her the number and she punched it in, waiting while it rang. When a voice answered on the other end, the white-haired woman said, "I have someone who wants to talk to you." Then she handed me the phone.

"Hello? Who is this?" It was my mom, a frantic tone in her voice that brought fresh tears to my eyes.

My voice came out shakier than I expected.

"Mom?"

Neither one of us could talk, not for a long time, because we were both crying. Then she finally whispered my name, like it was a magical word that could change the world.

"Rachel? Rachel, baby, where are you?"

I looked around. "I don't know."

"You're on the 39, just north of Azusa," the white-haired woman told me.

Flashing lights spun in the distance and sirens blared. An ambulance and a fire truck and two police cars were headed toward us. I blinked at the brightness, shielding my eyes with one hand.

"Rachel? Are you still there?" It was my father's voice now, calling me back to the cell phone.

I pressed it against my ear. "Daddy?"

"Honey, when the ambulance gets there, you get inside and you stay there. Do you hear me? Don't get in a car with anyone else!"

"I will — I mean, I won't. I'll go with the paramedics." My teeth were chattering and I was shivering so much I could hardly hold the phone. I think I may have started talking gibberish, half-sentences with little meaning. I remember saying something about my geometry test and worrying that I wouldn't make it to class tomorrow and I may have mentioned something about my biology class, too, because Dad interrupted me.

"Rachel, are you talking about the class you took with Miss Wallace?"

"Yeah. She always gives exams on Wednesday."

There was a long silence. I wondered if we had gotten cut off. Meanwhile, the ambulance doors opened and someone wheeled a stretcher toward me.

"Honey, you had geometry with Miss Wallace last year. When you were a sophomore."

I frowned. "But I'm a sophomore now."

"Baby girl, you're a junior. Don't worry about it. All this will get straightened out when you get home —"

I dropped the phone. My hands were shaking too much to hold it. I glanced down at my hands, at the chipped red nail polish. But I hadn't been wearing nail polish last night and I never use this color. I turned my hands over and discovered a tattoo on my inner wrist.

A tattoo?

Always and forever. That's what it said. But there was no redness or swelling. I didn't get this tattoo anytime recently.

The paramedics helped me onto the stretcher, and then the world was rushing past me, rain falling on my face, people staring down at me as the stretcher wheeled by, the air thick with the smell of oil and gasoline and burned rubber. Then another smell came suddenly and violently — a memory.

A thick, cloying scent of pine and cedar.

My stomach lurched and I couldn't stop.

I started screaming again.

CHAPTER 2

I didn't recognize myself.

When I went to sleep last night, my hair had been dark brown and shoulder-length. Now it was cropped short and dyed platinum blond. My face looked longer and thinner, my cheekbones more pronounced. I looked away from the mirrored wall on my left and focused on the man sitting across from me instead.

FBI agent Ryan Bennet.

Any other time I would have thought it was cool to be alone with a guy like this. About ten years older than me, he looked like a stunt double for Channing Tatum. Cool green eyes studied me, a pensive expression on his face. He glanced down at his notes, tapping his pen on the table between us.

"You don't remember anything about where you were for the past two weeks?"

He'd asked this before. I'd already answered it.

I sighed. I wanted to go home.

"There was a smell. Like a forest, maybe. Pine and cedar. That's all."

"Could that smell have been a man's cologne?"

I shrugged. "Maybe."

"The last thing you remember is ..."

"Going to bed and listening to music."

"And your current class schedule is ..." He began naming all my sophomore classes, reading a list I had written down a few minutes ago.

I nodded.

"You don't remember taking chemistry or Algebra II?"

"Are you kidding?" There's no way I was in Algebra II. I hadn't even mastered geometry yet. I was still worried Miss Wallace was going to flunk me.

He shifted in his chair, then shot a quick glance at the mirror, maybe wishing he could talk to whoever was on the other side. "There's one other thing we haven't discussed yet."

An unwelcome shudder raced over me. I already knew that I hadn't been raped. I'd spent hours with a woman doctor while she gently poked and prodded me, asking me questions. When she was drawing my blood, both of us had been puzzled by the marks on my inner arms.

Needle marks.

Either I was a druggie, which just couldn't be true, or someone had been injecting something into me. The tricky thing was, some of those track marks looked a lot older than two weeks. Now I had a possible threat of withdrawal hanging over my head, with symptoms that could range from headaches to night terrors to tremors.

Across from me, Agent Bennet opened a large manila envelope, one that had been sitting conspicuously beside him throughout our interview. He slid out several photographs, all eight-by-ten glossies — each one catching his attention for a moment and causing his brow to lower — and then he slapped them down on the table, lining them up in a row so they faced me. They were all shots of girls about my age, each one with different hair and eye and skin color, each one smiling into the camera, like they were expecting something wonderful to happen. These had to be yearbook photos, because every hair was perfect, every girl was staring right at me.

All of them waiting for something.

I glanced up at Agent Bennet, wondering what he wanted.

"Do you know any of these girls?" he asked.

I ran a gaze over them again, imagining them stretching on the barre, wearing one-piece black leotards, or running down the hall at Lincoln High, wearing jeans and T-shirts, backpacks slung over their shoulders. Six girls looked up at me, wanting me to know their names, but I was lucky to remember my own name right now.

I shook my head. "Who are they?"

He started listing them off as if they were his younger sisters; every time he touched a photo he would say the girl's name and his jaw would shift, just a fraction, as if the muscle was working too hard. As I expected, he said six names I didn't recognize — Emily, Hannah, Madison, Nicole, Haley, and Brooke — then he spoke again, still staring down at their faces.

"All these girls have gone missing within the past three months. Two of them disappeared after school, like you did. Three left home for sporting events but never came back. One girl told her mother she was spending the weekend with a friend, but the friend waited and waited. The girl never showed up."

He paused, then looked directly into my eyes, watching me so closely that a trickle of sweat began to run down my neck. "You're the only girl who has come back," he said, leaning forward. "How did you get away?"

How was I supposed to know? My skin started to heat up, a feeling of being trapped started to overwhelm me, and my breathing turned ragged and raw. I needed to get out of here.

I shook my head, my stomach roiling. "I don't remember."

"There were pine needles stuck to your clothes, Rachel, and seedpods that can only be found in the San Gabriel Mountains. Could someone have been holding you captive in the mountains?"

That smell of cedar and pine came back, as if he had conjured it. It wafted around me, oozing out of the floorboards and the seams where the walls met. It curled like smoke away from the mirror until foggy clouds covered the floor. I fought a gag reflex, holding my right hand over my mouth. Without realizing it, I pushed my chair backward, accidentally knocking it to the floor with a loud crash. I struggled to my feet.

At the same time, the door behind me clicked and swung open. A woman dressed in a navy blue suit looked in at us, a stern expression on her face as she glanced from me to Agent Bennet. "That's enough for today, Bennet. In fact, it's enough, period. Miss Evans can go home now. Her parents have been waiting for more than an hour."

One hand still over my mouth and nose, trying to block out the stench of pine and cedar, I stumbled past her, heading down the hallway. But no matter how fast I walked, I could still hear the two of them arguing.

"You will not follow this line of questioning any further, do you understand, Bennet?" the woman was saying. "This girl has been traumatized enough."

"But there's something here that connects these cases. I'm sure of it. Something we're overlooking —"

"Half of these girls are probably runaways. There's not enough evidence to prove they fall into the category of Violent Crimes Against Children, or that these cases are related —"

The farther I walked away from them, the more their voices faded, which was what I wanted. I could see Mom and Dad and Kyle through a large glass window up ahead, all of them waving at me, big smiles on their faces like we were going to Disneyland.

The two agents behind me probably hadn't realized that I could still hear them. It was like I was invisible. I tried to ignore them and forget about what might have happened during that two-week period when I was lost.

Except now, after talking to that FBI agent, I knew that I wasn't the only one. There were other girls out there who had gone missing, too.

And they were still lost.

CHAPTER 3

We all piled into Dad's SUV and headed away from the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. Dad drove while Mom sat in the front passenger seat, chewing her fingernails, staring out the window, occasionally saying something overly cheerful like, we need to take a family vacation or isn't the weather gorgeous today? Dad didn't say much. He'd been a lot quieter since his last tour in Afghanistan, right before he retired from the Navy last year. A new Taylor Swift song played on the radio, one I didn't recognize — apparently she'd released another album during my missing year. Cars drove past that I'd never seen before, some new model of Mini-Coop and a sporty-looking Kia.

It felt like I'd been to Mars and back since I went to sleep last night.

Even worse, I didn't fit in with my family.

I was as tall as Mom now, but I used to be two inches shorter. Kyle, my little brother, wasn't little anymore. He towered over both me and Mom.

Dad was the same. Almost.

There were worry lines on his forehead and around his eyes, an expression of dread that never seemed to leave him. I was used to him making me feel safe. Now something about me put him on edge.

It was weird, but I could remember almost anything, as long as it had happened more than a year ago. It felt like someone had erased the hard drive in my brain, leaving a handful of important folders empty. It didn't make sense to me. Why had I only been gone for two weeks, but my memories of the whole last year were gone? The therapist had tried to explain it, saying that I had a form of retrograde amnesia, possibly combined with PTSD, and that it would take a while before my memories came back — if ever.

In the meantime, I was left with a family that all stared at me when they thought I wasn't looking, like I was made out of porcelain and was about to break.

I missed how things used to be.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2016 Merrie Destefano. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Lost Girls 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book! It has a great twist. I did figure out one secret, but I was still surprised at the end. I think the epilogue was cheesy and unnecessary, but overall enjoyable. I was still left with some questions at the end, but maybe some details are just left to the imagination.
JaneenIppolito More than 1 year ago
I downloaded Lost Girls on a whim. Usually I'm a speculative fiction reader, but I love a good mystery/noir, and I also have a thing for amnesia-based whodunnits. Lost Girls delivered on all counts. Well-crafted and fast-paced with just the right amount of dark edge. I also love all of the character dynamics around the actual 'mystery' as well as the motivations behind the fighting. And kudos for unflinchingly showing the appeal of combat for both genders. So glad I had a chance to read this!
Melhay More than 1 year ago
*I was offered a copy of this book from the author or publisher for review. Merrie grabs my attention from the first sentence and never lets it go. I loved the format that Merrie used to tell this story. We don't start at the beginning of when all started to change with Rachel. We start when things have already changed, and turned ugly. She finds herself in a ditch, beat up and bruised, with memory loss for the last year. Everyone around her knows how things are/were but are afraid to tell her or sworn to secrecy by her previously. But it all starts to surface slowly in her mind and as she learns what she does with her friends. In this fashion we learn what each of the girls faced to get to where they are. The fears they each face. There is more going on than Rachel knows, and she keeps pushing, until she remembers it all and faces the chance of losing herself again. I found I was constantly guessing, in my mind, what had happened to Rachel and the other lost girls. And always trying to piece together what I was learning each time I came across a large piece of the puzzle. Wow. This book was so well done to keep you going, learning, and wanting more. This is a book that can and should be read by adults and children. There are strong feels present in the story. These children have fears they fight daily. They may react differently than an adult would, but in their emotional state they find a way to deal with what they feel. And, unfortunately, it leads down a road that's hard to break from. The fears may seem simple to you, but to these kids they aren't. They will learn to stand on their own from them. There are drugs and drinking that's present in the story. This is related to the feelings and actions of the kids though. How these kids come out in the end is amazing. Yes, this is fiction, but the feelings kids feel are true, and can lead to good paths or terrible paths. I felt the heartache and emotions of the characters. I felt completely invested with Rachel and others. There was one person that Rachel talked to, twice actually, and each time she saw this person I started to cry. It was very emotional for Rachel and the person and the scenes touched my heart. Rachel has a draw to the Black Swan and dance, it shows in how she sees things in her life. I loved this as it took something Rachel related to and related it to the life she was living. This book simply wowed me.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
The concept behind Lost Girls is ambitious, I’ll give the author that. The writing is all right. But the whole plot just isn’t very believable. I’ve read fantasy novels that are more believable than this one. Rachel used to be a normal girl. She went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, worrying about geometry, and then she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised and missing a year of her life. And in that year, she’s somehow managed to become popular, she wears nothing but black, and she turned into the female version of Chuck Norris. On top of that, she’s not the only girl who went missing last year, she’s just the only girl who came back… Desperate to unravel what happened to her, she goes on a quest to find out who she truly is, and the more she discovers, the more her memories return and her old life calls back to her. So there are several things wrong with this book. Rachel starts out like a normal girl, then gets attack in a bathroom at school and goes all Chuck Norris meets The Karate Kid. Add to that the fact that unlike The Karate Kid she doesn’t really train all day, she magically seems to transform into a fighting machine. There’s some drug involved too, but a lot of folks are taking that drug and Rachel is just the baddest of them all. The Rachel we meet at the start was a believable character, a typical teen, and I might even have liked her. But then she completely transforms into the queen bee, going out to raves, doing drugs, fighting, and it’s just… it’s meh. She’s not likeable. She’s not even believable. She keeps up her good grades while going out to raves every night? Yeah, right. She’s so mean everyone likes her? Hmm. The secondary characters aren’t much better. None of them rise above their stereotypes, the sidekick girls, the angsty love interest. They’re all not really realistic, not believable, not likeable either. Also, Rachel somehow turns out to be better than an FBI agent and an ex-marine (her Dad). Hmmmm. Right. My number one thought while reading was “really? you really want me to believe this?” And that’s not good. So, all in all, the writing was okay, but the characters were neither likeable nor realistic, and the plot was completely unrealistic. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Trebble More than 1 year ago
If you don't know already, I don't often read YA contemporary, but I've read his author before and I enjoy her work plus this sounded intriguing. I was not wrong. In fact, I was captivated from the beginning and I could not wait to see how this played out. I also think that this book will go down as one of my favorite contemporary thriller YA books. The story plays out and you are just as confused as Rachel waking up and trying to piece together why a year has totally gone missing. She was only gone for 2 weeks and a lot had changed within that year. New friends, a new look and a mysterious ability. Bits of information make it's way to Rachel and it is perfectly paced to relay a sense of foreboding and danger. I'm not sure I want to give away more than that. Don't want to spoil anything. I will say that while I enjoyed the ending, it was probably the weakest part of the story. The reason is that it felt like it was very quickly wrapped up but then again, I'm not sure how it would be made better. Considering how strong the rest of the book felt to me, this was not a big problem. The ending also made me love the secondary characters more so you see how it really wasn't too weak it probably just felt that way in comparison to the rest of the book. I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this book and if you enjoy thrillers of all kinds, I do highly recommend this book.
JennifersReviewJE More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I expected. I thought it was a paranormal from the cover. I kept waiting for the paranormal to happen, and as out main character walked towards "the door" I was biting my nails waiting for "it". Well, the "it" was a big disappointment paranormally, but by the time I realized it was a real-life contemporary, I was far too invested to put it down. Despite the lack of paranormal elements, this is a really great book. This girl wakes up in a ditch with no memory of the past year of her life, but she's only been missing for two weeks. It's an awesome concept, and I enjoyed as the character had to re-learn who she was. I ended up really liking this book a lot, and total kudos to the author for placing a public service message for troubled teens at the back of the book. I must admit, I am a hard sell for contemporary, but this one won me over anyway.
RemadeGold More than 1 year ago
I am a long-time Merrie Destefano fan. I don't think she's written anything I haven't enjoyed, and though the book Lost Girls is a little different than her previous ones, it still maintains that sense of being a Merrie Destefano book. I saw another reviewer refer to it as "Fight Club meets Mean Girls," which is true enough, but it's also a story about the good girl gone rebel, a human trafficking victim (of sorts), and, Destefano's staple item: broken humans engaged with supernatural forces. The story begins with a girl in a ditch with no memory of how she got there or the last year of her life. From that point forward, she has to try to figure out what happened, how it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again all while trying to regain her memory and insert herself back into her family life. Even her bedroom doesn't look right. It's fast-paced, with all the notes of a high school drama that pan out in thriller-fashion, and spirals to an adrenaline-rushed finish with an iconic ending that I won't spoil. Lost Girls came out on January 3rd.
TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano! Wow! The story jumps right into the action and mystery by opening with a girl waking up in a gully, with no memories of the past year or where she is or how she got there. Little by little, she learns what has taken place as her memories trickle back. The human trafficking in this book reminds me a bit of the Liam Neeson movie, Taken, with plenty of mystery and action all on its own. Rachel has a strength unmatched by others and she has to rely on that strength to get her through her current struggles. As her memories resurface, Rachel realizes that many teenagers- male and female - are in danger and she will do whatever it takes to help them. Banter between Rachel and her brother Kyle, alleviate some of the teen angst and dark struggles in this story. A bit of hopeful romance adds charm that lightens the mood also. This is unpredictable and a unique take on young adult mystery and I rate it 4 stars! I appreciate the author adding runaway, suicide, teen safety and teen health and wellness hotline information at the end of the book. As is often the case, when someone suffers it is difficult to ask people we know for help, so this hotline information is a wonderful resource.
BookishThings More than 1 year ago
This is one book I could not put down. I was glued to the pages trying to figure out what happened to Rachel. This is definitely one of those books it's best to go in blind so that the story unfolds around you. It's full of suspense and mystery. How did Rachel become a Lost Girl? And will she ever figure out who she has become? The characters were phenomenal. You wanted to get inside each of their minds and see what their role is in Rachel's life. Some of the characters I couldn't stand, but some of them I couldn't help but feel for, especially Rachel. I can't imagine not remembering a year of my life. I also loved the friendships. Each one held a significance to Rachel finding out what happened. Some of them you don't expect, and others you hope will work out. Rachel's story is dark, twisty, and will have you completely engrossed in the story.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
I knew that Lost Girls was going to be an interesting read, but I didn't expect it to be so totally engrossing! Merrie Destefano writes to capture attention and holds it by engaging readers thoroughly as Rachel's dark tale unfolds. Rachel comes to consciousness in a ditch without memory of how she got there or the last year of her life. As she resumes her normal routine of school and ballet, she realizes that the truth behind her disappearance lies with the group of friends she doesn't remember acquiring. Their late night antics make her question what type of person she is and how they fell into this dangerous lifestyle. Merrie Destefano tells a dark and imaginative story that takes readers beyond Rachel's dig for answers. This fast paced read takes readers into the heart of the characters and their emotional struggles. Reading Lost Girls is like putting together a puzzle. You try to piece the story together until it makes sense and when it all comes together in the end, you sit back with a sigh of satisfaction. The whole picture will put the story into a different light and readers will see how relatable Rachel's story is. When you pick up this story be prepared to lose yourself in it! *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review* Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books
Anita Ojeda More than 1 year ago
When Rachel wakes up in a ditch and eventually stops traffic to get help, she can't remember the last year of her life--even though she's only been missing for ten days. The story sinks its teeth into and won't let go until you turn the final page. How does a teenager forget a year of her life? Why does she have track marks on her arm and where do her reflexive skills of self-defense come from? She thought she was a ballerina. The answers draw Rachel (and the reader) into a bigger, and more sinister mystery than anyone could have imagined. In the end, Rachel must rely on everything she has learned about trust and who she really is and wants to be in order to save not only herself, but other lost girls. A book that parents, teachers and law-enforcement officers should read, as well as young adults. While not fitting the classic YA genre (a young person moving from the shelter of authority to autonomy), this isn't actually a Middle Grade novel, either (where the protagonist finds shelter in the family circle).
steelergirl83 More than 1 year ago
Do you ever just get stuck reading books in a certain genre? I enjoy reading so many types of books, but sometimes it seems like I read book after book that sounds exactly the same as the previous story. I like to try to keep a variety of books at hand on my iPad or on my home library shelves. Thankfully, one of my favorite thriller writers is back with a book that feeds the need for a unique story. It has been a few years since I've read her adult fantasy novels, and that is sad because Merrie Destefano's books are some of my all-time favorites. Lost Girls, her latest YA fiction from Entangled Publishing, is certainly another stunner of a story. Action-packed is the first term that comes to my mind as a descriptor for Rachel Evans' life in what is seemingly a quite suburb. Like many teens, she has a boyfriend, frenemies, and an annoying little brother. However, that is where the humdrum of her story ends and the insane, drug-fueled raves, fight clubs, and trafficking begins. Every line is sheer pandemonium. I honestly can't remember the last time I read a story that had me on the edge of my seat for such a long period of time. The last half of the story was an absolute nail-biter! It takes a bit of a stretch to believe that Rachel and her friends all became masters of physical combat in such a short period of time, but, dang...what a wild mix! Lost Girls is definitely not a happy, feel good story. It is dark and dangerous, but there is still that message of hope at the end. Hope in family, friends, and making positive changes in spite of all the bad. Merrie Destefano has written another book to go on the keeper shelf! If you like a story with thrills and excitement, but want a story that is not all fluff, but also confronts some serious issues that face many teens and women today, I recommend Lost Girls. Destefano does not tread lightly, and as a reader returning to the YA fiction genre, I'm glad to see a female character who doesn't depend on a boy to fight her battles. Please direct me to more stories where a girl kicks butt both figuratively and literally! ~ My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ~ * I receive free books from authors, publishers, and/or publicists. I am not required to write positive reviews. All opinions expressed are my own.*
BetwixtthePages More than 1 year ago
Rating: 5/5 Penguins Quick Reasons: life ruiner alert!; this book swept me up in a tidal wave of emotion, and refused to let go; awesome use of unreliable narrator; the mystery and intrigue was so beautifully-written and complex; this is a race head-first toward an explosive ending, and I adored every second of it; I need more of Merrie Destefano's writing in my life - After TWO MONTHS of no 5 Penguin reads...I'm closing out 2016 with a very high note. It's New Years Eve for another hour, penguins (or at least, it is for another hour where I'm living now), and I've just closed the page on this read...and let me tell you, it was QUITE the whirlwind journey. I started this read this afternoon, thinking I'd get partway through it as this review goes live next week on my blog...and found myself instead finishing it off in one sitting. And OH, my heartstrings. This book? This book is life-ruiner material, and it RUINED me. So let's talk nitty gritty, yes? I promise, I'm going to do my VERY VERY best to stray away from the icky spoilers territory...hopefully I can manage to convey how much I enjoyed this book, and the reasons why, without dropping some huge spoiler bomb or other. Hopefully. So...characters first, yes? Rachel is possibly one of the BEST, most effectively-written characters suffering from memory loss I've encountered in books in recent years. While I know this is a bit of a cliche trope...Merrie Destefano handles it so beautifully and makes it SO realistic, you'll find yourself racing toward the answers instead of feeling bogged down by what little you actually know. The focus on relationships throughout is also astounding and deliciously done. There's a thin line between trust and paranoia that gets played on throughout this read, especially in Rachel's case. She is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect unreliable narrator--and that makes it so easy for readers to both be enthralled by her, while also side-eyeing her. I give HUGE kudos to Merrie Destefano for managing this so beautifully; humans are complex and confusing creatures even on our best days, so adding in memory loss and internal conflicts only heightened such vast emotions. I was blown away by the complexity of this read, penguins. Rachel--and her relationships with those around her--goes through so many shifts and changes, so many trials and tribulations, you'll find yourself biting your nails, sitting on the edge of your seat, needing the answers as much as being scared of them. And the ending! The ending was just... I have to admit, I didn't see where the plot was going until we were already on the downhill track and racing fast to the crashing point. This book surprised me--immensely. That's not such an easy thing to do, in my world. I am just... Speechless, might be the closest way to explain how this book left me after the close. Merrie Destefano explored some heavy-handed, important subjects (which I won't get into, because SPOOOOOILERS, people) and wrote a complex, beautifully engaging whirlwind of emotions and life-ruination. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary novels with huge bite, strong-willed characters who know how to keep fighting, and life-ruining reads that will leave them thinking, "woah." THIS is one book you don't want to miss out on in 2017; pick it up, and let the fight for survival begin!
Book_Sniffers_Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually one for thrillers or mysteries but this story sounded really interesting. I mean, I couldn't imagine waking up in a ditch, broken, bruised, and completely confused how you got there when you had just curled up in your bed to go to sleep. Then, to find out that not only do you not have your memory of being kidnapped but you also don't remember an entire year of your life?! It blew my mind. Also, not only does she not remember the past year but all of a sudden she's strong, has fast reflexes, is a wicked good fighter that can knock a grown man on his back, and has track marks on the inside of her arm. Oh yeah, and the sweet little ballet dancer is also the Queen Bee of her mini group of girls who are all afraid of her and yet respect her. There was just so much going on in the book that I couldn't stop reading. I read it within a day. I don't want to go into too much detail and give anything away because it all sort of comes in waves as she remembers bits and pieces of the last year of her life. Then there's her friends, who she doesn't remember, who also sloly introduce her to her old life over time. So, you get pieces as to who Rachel was before everything happened as well as clues leading up to how she was kidnapped. The whole thing had me on the edge of my seat. Lost Girls was a doozy, that's for sure. Between the fight scenes, the confusion of who Rachel really is, the underlying danger of what/who's still out there possibly waiting for the perfect moment to snatch Rachel back, I could not put this book down. I had to know what happened next. I had to know if Rachel liked the person she'd become, if she'd continue down the path she was previously on or if she would revert back to the sweet innocent girl she was. This was a very entertaining read and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a gritty, suspenseful, YA that will have you wondering how everything will go down right up until the last page.
Mandy087 More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for allowing me to get my hands on this amazing book. Rachel goes to bed a normal teenager girl, listening to Taylor Swift and praying that she won't fail geometry. Awaking in a ditch and finding out she's been missing for two weeks is disturbing enough on its own merit. The thing that makes your fingers grip the pages tighter is the fact that though Rachel has only been missing for two weeks, she has lost a year of her life, no memory of the person she has apparently turned into. Destefano sucks you immediately into the character's mindset; her panic and despair, and then her growing resolution to find answers. Rachel is a strong character, but not so strong that she stops feeling vulnerable or human. The narration is so raw that it made me teary eyed with compassion on several occasions. This book has been compared to Fight Club, and that's not an inaccurate comparison at all. There's adrenaline in this storyline, an edgy and chaotic mystery and the reader finds themselves as seduced by it as Rachel is. There's something for everyone here; romance, action, mystery, but beating beneath it all like a steady heartbeat is the idea of family and friendship, and how those threads can be the constant in our lives even when our identities and sense of self is shifting.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I went into this sort of blind and was instantly sucked in. I really liked Rachel. She's been involved in a horrible trauma and doesn't have her memories, but she stays strong and fights. She establishes a routine and I loved that she didn't shrink away from what was happening. Of course Dylan is swoony and I love how he is protective without being stifling. Rachel's family is supportive, especially her father. It took a while to finally get the story behind what was happening. And the reveal is where I started to slowly lose interest. For me, it was no longer a high stakes mystery. I had no problem with what the big plot point was, but there were things happening at the "platinum level" that gave me an icky feeling and while authentic, made it less enjoyable to read. {I'm being vague on purpose} The ending was hopeful and adorable and really worked for the story. Overall, it was a quick read that I couldn't put down. I'll definitely be looking into future works by the author. **Huge thanks to Entangled Teen for sending me an early copy**
onemused More than 1 year ago
"Lost Girls" is a captivating YA mystery/thriller that begins with Rachel waking up in a ditch after falling asleep in her bed at home. She soon learns that she is missing a year of her memories but has been missing herself for 2 weeks, thought to be the victim of a serial kidnapper. She finds triggers for some of the memories she has been missing as she returns to her new life, where she appears to be a completely different person- using drugs, lying to her parents, a whole new set of friends, wearing black, etc. We slowly get to the answers of what happened during the last year and why she disappeared as she pieces it all together. It's a haunting story, and I absolutely could not predict where it would go. I did not guess anything like it was, so I will not give details so as not to spoil. There are several twists and turns along the way as Rachel regains her memories and connects the people who are now in her life and why. Most of it ends up making sense by the end, and it all comes together beautifully with great closure. No open endings here, and I really appreciated that as this book put me through an emotional wringer- it's dark and haunting and scary at times, so I needed the ending as it is written. This is an artfully crafted book. Rachel is easy to understand and follow. Although it can be frustrating to the reader to not have the answers, we really get into Rachel's mindset and understand how she also feels- needing to know but afraid of what she will learn. Dylan, her long-term crush and boyfriend, is an intriguing character- a poet and fighter, and I really liked their relationship. It gives Rachel strength in a different way than her relationships with her family members, which are also really well written and lovely. Her father is a silently supportive man who will look out for Rachel no matter what, and she knows this. Her brother Kyle also cares for her in a loving sibling way, and he was a fun character whose scenes I really enjoyed. Her mother appears less but also provides her with support. Rachel's former BFF Molly is a huge contrast to her new friends, and this was an interesting dynamic to reconcile between Rachel's past and present. It was interesting to see it all come together. I am not sure I would have made the "Fight Club" or "Black Swan" comparisons (though I do understand why they were made), but it made me think of the recent books "Dead Girls Society" and "Unnatural Deeds" largely because of tone and mystery, which I felt were the bigger elements of the book. Overall, this was a really fantastic, albeit dark, read, and I was absolutely captivated solving the mystery of her past and disappearance alongside Rachel. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are entirely my own.