Behind The Mask

2 Stars

This was hard to get into. It’s supposed to be a Halloween thriller but the events leading up to it are odd and the thriller aspect of it doesn’t quite thrill. Jesse is supposed to be in a year-long relationship with the popular jock. This is all fine and seems like it might be something but it doesn’t quite pay off. For instance, Billy stands up to a supposed bully at the beginning of the school day which is a good thing. He also begs Jesse to let him sneak over to his babysitting gig to spend time with him which Jesse declines but then later on he’s having an argument about him not being present in his life after singing his praises in the opening chapter. Jesse goes so far as to say he wishes he has Billy’s confidence like Billy is the best thing to ever happen to him. And, seeing as they don’t have much page time or character development the contradiction of these two thoughts was odd as the only impression we have of Billy is good things.

Then there are other slight inconsistencies. Like when his dad asks him if Billy is still working at the gym and he says “I don’t know, I’ll ask him”, but then when he goes up to his room and calls him he asks Billy are you still at the gym? First, he obviously had contact with him before his dad asked if he was at the gym to know he was indeed there to ask if he was still there, and secondly why would he say he doesn’t know if he works there still when clearly he did know?

Then it was hard to get on the bully, Zellers, plotline. As soon as Jesse had the ‘incident’ on his way home almost being run down by who he assumed to be Zellers because of the same Halloween mask my first thought was loads of people drive so unless he knew the license plate it could be anyone. Also, he was not the only one wearing that mask so again it could be anyone. Then to cap it all off Billy says the exact same thing that it could be anyone. However, it felt like the author wanted me to believe it could be otherwise. There wasn’t enough set-up or evidence to support Jesse’s paranoia. Billy was right.

After that, I was just reading to see how the plot would go. You knew who was doing it before it even began. I honestly went into the book after the first chapter thinking the plot would go the way it went and on that end I was correct. But, and here’s a plot spoiler I guess, after all of that there’s a big argument about how they are breaking up over everything which seems so out of left field just like the first conversation about being present. These are just a few things really that didn’t line up plotwise. I mean yes this is breakup worthy but you could see this prank coming a mile away and I wasn’t invested enough in the relationship for the first confrontation so this second one fell flat. It’s really hard to believe anyone would pull something like this, on someone who hates Halloween and expect good results.

Also, as a parent, I’m def not hiring the one person who hates Halloween to watch my kids on Halloween especially if Trick-or-Treating is involved. I want my children to enjoy the experience with someone who will upsell the festiveness of it all.

With the constantly trying to make us feel like it was the bully doing things with nothing solid to make readers believe Jesse was right, coupled with knowing who was behind the pranks the whole time, and then adding on that through all the scares Jesse never once woke up the kids, or they didn’t wake up themselves through all the noise was odd. There’s no way he wouldn’t think to protect the kids first or call the parents. There’s only so far a prank can go before it gets legitimately dangerous and this one did. That and the way the kids acted and behaved was odd. I was confused a good bit when their scenes were happening. My overall impression was that things just happened and there wasn’t enough development to connect to this.

Things like the above gym thing for example when his mom responds to his dad’s question as Jesse leaves with they can’t afford a trainer, and Jesse is apparently walking away from an argument. I was waiting for him to hear this argument or have some clue about what this argument was because his dad being laid off for three months and his mom saying they couldn’t afford this was a legitimate comment and being jobless he may very well have bowed out of this conversation. Also when he comes down from his room apparently the argument was about violence and stuff so had zero to do with the argument he assumed would happen after a sentence about finances.

Lastly, it’s a bit rainy, his mom and dad both offer to drive him to the babysitting gig. He declines. And then Billy’s first thought when Jesse calls is do you need a ride. Jesse is defensive. Three ride turn downs lead me to believe that he’s the one distant in the relationship and not Billy.

Basically, things just happen and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out odd plot things going on that just didn’t line up and then when the scares start happening at that point you already know who is behind it and then even more odd things happen once it’s over and there’s a supposed twist ending that I had to reread the book to have sink in as it isn’t painfully obvious that this is the right conclusion. Again it could be anybody the transpired incidents don’t confirm that. Ultimately there wasn’t enough development of things to make this book work so I couldn’t go along for the ride.

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