Book Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

Gone Too FarGone Too Far
Natalie D. Richards
Sourcebooks Fire, January 2015
ISBN 978-1-4022-8554-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Send me a name. Make someone pay.

Piper Woods can’t wait to graduate. To leave high school-and all the annoying cliques-behind. But when she finds a mysterious notebook filled with the sins of her fellow students, Piper’s suddenly drowning in their secrets.

And she’s not the only one watching…

An anonymous text invites Piper to choose: the cheater, the bully, the shoplifter. The popular kids with their dirty little secrets. And with one text, Piper can make them pay.

But the truth can be dangerous…

Piper is like the majority of kids trying to get through high school—keeping her head low, avoiding the top echelon of jocks and cheerleaders, keeping up with her studies so she can get the heck out of Dodge and make a life for herself—but even her walls can’t keep her completely distanced from what happens to Stella one day. Stella, one of the golden kids, falls prey to a vicious verbal attack and Piper is right beside her when it happens. Afterward, Piper walks away but she can’t help feeling drawn to Stella in her pain.

Piper should have paid attention to her own misgivings for the unthinkable happens and Piper can’t help thinking she could have done something. And what about the notebook she picked up that day, the one that seems to contain secrets her classmates wouldn’t want spread about? Whose notebook is it and what does it have to do with Stella’s humiliation? Piper is about to find out and, before long, her own guilt and anger pull her into a spiral of revenge and judgement, leading to betrayal of the worst kind.

Piper is a girl who represents all those kids who are on the fringe, not a part of the favored few, and I felt a really strong connection to her, as well as to her best friend, Manny. What surprised me most was how appealing I found some of that inner circle, how vulnerable they were despite their privileged lives. Nick is a good guy in flimsy disguise but Tate…ah, Tate. That’s a boy who learns the hard way what really matters.

Gone Too Far is the second book by Ms. Richards that I’ve read, following Six Months Later, and I loved this one just as much. This author has a sure touch when it comes to depicting teens and their world, a world we all go through but one which is not always remembered in quite the right way. She sees into these kids and finds their innermost beings, their hearts and souls, whether good, bad or indifferent. I hate that I have to wait for her next book but this was a fine way to end this year and Gone Too Far will be on my list of favorites for 2014.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2014.

An Excerpt from Gone Too Far

I unzip my bag, rifling through stuff that’s worthless right now: proof sheets from the homecoming dance, my history textbook— might be useful if I hadn’t already taken that test—an extra lens cap. My fingers close around a slim, spiral-bound spine. That notebook I found.

I pull it out. Maybe, by some stroke of cosmic luck, it’s someone else’s AP chemistry notes. Fat chance, but I’m desperate.

I open the book and frown at the three large words handwritten on the inside of the cover.

Malum Non Vide

Great. Latin notes. I think it’s Latin, anyway. Regardless, it’s useless to me.

I sigh, running a finger down the cardboard pocket insert that protects the first page. Funny. I’ve never seen anyone use these stupid things, but I can feel a thick lump in this one. I pull back the cardboard far enough to see what’s inside—pictures. A whole stack of them. A photographer not checking out a stack of prints is about as likely as a cat resisting an open can of tuna. It’s not exactly snooping, more like creative curiosity.

I slide a couple of photos out by the edges. Poor quality black and white snapshots taken around the school from what I can tell. I straighten the top photo to get a better look. It’s Isaac Cooper…but it’s wrong.

Isaac’s eyes are empty. White sockets glare out at me, windows to a place where Isaac’s soul used to be.

I feather my thumb over the face, feeling the jagged scrapes and tears in the photo. The eyes weren’t just colored over—they were gouged out. And someone took their time about it, picking out bits of iris and pupil, leaving nothing but a pale oval framed by his eyelids.

A chill ghosts up my spine, nesting in the hair at the nape of my neck.

Who would do this? I try to picture it; someone hunched over with a needle, scratching away. The image sends my stomach into free fall.

I flip to the next picture. Anna Price. Her eyes are gone too. I keep flipping—Kristen, Ming, that guy who always seems to be dating one of the cheerleaders. Three more pictures. Six more gaping holes where eyes should be. My heart beats faster, pushing ice into my veins.

I put the pictures back with shaking hands.

What the hell kind of book is this?

Come back on Friday to enjoy my
interview with Natalie D. Richards.