YA ARC Review: THAT NIGHT by Cyn Balog

Title: THAT NIGHT

Author: Cyn Balog

Rating: ⭐ ⭐

TW: suicide, depression

Hailey is determined to find out all she can about her boyfriend’s suicide. She knows Declan wouldn’t kill himself, even if she can’t remember a lot of what lead up to that fateful night.

Kane, Declan’s stepbrother and Hailey’s best friend, wants to move past what happened—not dig up bad memories. But the more Hailey searches for information, the more she remembers.

As the truth begins to unravel, Hailey finds herself unveiling secrets she never could have imagined—secrets that have the possibility of ruining everything…

My Review:

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.

A brilliantly crafted and thrilling story about love and loss that poorly handles heavy themes like toxic relationships.

The book follows seventeen-year-old Hailey as she copes with the suicide of her boyfriend a year ago. No one will believe her when she says it wasn’t a suicide, but she’ll have to recollect her memories if she wants to prove it.

The story switches between two timelines—before and after Hailey’s boyfriend, Declan’s suicide. It’s always clearly mentioned which timeline we are at, which makes the story straightforward and interesting. The voice is crisp and snarky, and the narrative doesn’t drag. The suspense builds up from page one, and it’s an obvious page turner. That is, until the truth about the night Declan killed himself starts to unravel.

Balog never fails to keep up the intriguing voice and fast pace of the plot, but there’s so much it can cover up. As the story progressed, I couldn’t feel comfortable with it anymore. Nowhere in the story do you ever see Hailey as a fully-grown person. Her character arc was poor, and the only development she saw was through her boyfriend. Hailey was never anything more than the boys in her life, even in the very last chapter where she starts dating again, she is defined by that new boyfriend.

The ending was equally disappointing. Hailey’s been so depressed after Declan’s suicide that she cannot eat or leave her bed, or even interact with friends, and her grades are dropping. Still, what Balog focuses on to show Hailey overcoming it is her dating again. There was no personal growth for her that could make her a self-sufficient human being.

Hailey was clearly been in a toxic relationship with both her boyfriend and her best friend. The story never bothers to address it, though. Instead, it is normalized, even romanticized, showing each of the boys doing everything for Hailey. But it doesn’t show that the boys are not doing it for her, but to control her.

Hailey’s mentality along with the story-line focusing solely on her dating life might have worked in another genre where male authors condescend women to plot devices and show women’s story through the men in her life, but not in YA.

Overall, the story is good if you are taking notes on writing thrillers, but a complete mess and better avoided if you are trying to connect with the story.

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