Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Priceless by Tamara Hart Heiner

From Goodreads:
It’s been two years since Jaci and her friends were kidnapped by The Hand and ultimately escaped. Jaci has done her best to re-assimilate into high school society, to put that terrifying experience behind her. As a runner on the cross-country team and the almost-girlfriend of a popular football star, it seems as if her future is finally falling into place.

When a series of weird, innocuous notes begin to show up at her house and in her locker, Jaci assumes her brother is playing jokes on her. But as the notes grow more sinister, she begins to question their origin.

By the time she suspects that her previous kidnappers are involved, too much is at stake to tackle this problem on her own.

Somehow Jaci must avoid capture without involving her family or endangering her friends.

My Take:
First off, this is the third book in a series, however, I have not read the first two. You don't have to have read them to enjoy this book, but after reading it you might want to go back and catch the first two--Perilous and Altercation.

Okay, let's talk about Jaci. I love how real she is. Sure, it's been two years since the events of the first two books--a months long ordeal where she was kidnapped, escaped, lived on the run, caught, and almost sold into the sex slave trade. One friend died, another moved away, and all she has left is Amanda. Jaci is withdrawn from society even though she's on the track team. It's too hard for her to trust anyone, even the police, thanks to her experience. At the beginning of the story she is trying to change. She wants to live again. Unfortunately for her, that decision comes at the same time as the arrival of mysterious and ominous notes, and text messages.

The one thing that bothered me was the fact she never tells Amanda. Granted, Amanda did not make confiding in her easy. Okay, I sort of understand at first, but as soon as Jaci thinks the notes might have some connection to the earlier kidnapping, she should have talked to Amanda. Both were at risk, but it's like she never considered Amanda might be in trouble.

Other than that, I loved how the author kept me wondering who was behind the stalking. I made several guesses, but I didn't see it coming together the way it did.

The romance angle is definitely complicated. And I really liked that. Jaci has finally relented and allowed herself to hang out with Joey, the star football player at school. He seems like such a nice guy! He's always trying to help his miscreant brother out of trouble, he's attentive and doesn't try anything. A perfect gentleman.

She's also hit on by Amanda's jerk of a boyfriend Gavin. Good thing she's taken self-defense classes for the last year! However, this puts an added strain between her and Amanda (Jaci doesn't tell her it happened) and contributes to the number of secrets piling up between them, making it so much harder to come clean.

Joel is sweet, but Jaci keep thinking about someone else. Two years earlier she met a boy named Ricky. He was her first kiss. However he moved away. He wrote her several times, but she never replied. After a year he stopped writing, but never forgot her. Now he's back, and staying at her house for a week with his family. Just the sight of him brings back so many memories!

I think Heiner kept a great balance between the characters age and the maturity they both gained from their experience. It was totally believable.

And you have no idea how hard it was to write this review without giving away spoilers!

I give Priceless a 4.5, rounded up to 5 because now I think I'll read the first two books in the series. 

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

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