Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words cover

I thought the premise of this YA thriller by Katie Alender — a serial killer is recreating famous scenes from movies for his deaths — would be intriguing, but I found too much of it assembled from overly familiar bits. Plus, I was disappointed to find that Famous Last Words was also a ghost story, with spirits helping solve the mystery. I’m ok with real-life villains, but I don’t believe in ghosts, and mixing the two seemed to do both a disservice.

Famous Last Words cover

Willa’s mother has married Jonathan, a famous movie director, and moved them both to Hollywood with him. Willa is grumpy about everything, and when she starts having creepy-real flashbacks of the last moments of the young women killed in movie scenes, her life spins out of control.

Typical of the YA genre, there are two dreamy boys for her to choose between — Wyatt is a fellow student investigating the killings while the older Reed is Jonathan’s assistant — as well as a modern-day take on a Cinderella story, as her new stepfather gives her gifts and brings her to a former movie star’s mansion to live. Willa’s damaged, haunted by her father’s sudden death after an argument with her, and she’s hiding the trauma from everyone. She does make a friend, who provides entry to some glamorous Hollywood events, but even the friend has her own secrets.

By the end of the story, I was tired of Willa’s adolescence, mostly reflected in reading over and over how she’s afraid to tell anyone the truth. It’s an idiot plot, since if she spoke to any of the people that care about her, there wouldn’t be a book. Instead, we get several life-threatening scenes as both supernatural and psychotic monsters try to kill her. There are too many various bits spinning around for them all to get the space they need, and I found the whole a waste of the Hollywood connections. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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