Staff Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie book cover

Book I Read: Sadie” by Courtney Summers

Why I Checked It Out: I’m a sucker for a good thriller and I’d seen good reviews so I had no issue putting “Sadie” on my to-be-read list. It moved to the top of the list once I learned it had an unusual storytelling format. Some of the chapters are from the perspective of the protagonist, Sadie. But the other half are a true-crime podcast. That grabbed me since I’m pretty much a true-crime junkie. But then I learned that not only was the book in this format, but the audiobook went all out and actually created those chapters in podcast format with multiple narrators and sound effects. I knew this was one I would have to listen to.

What It’s About: Sadie and her younger sister Mattie live in a small and impoverished town in Colorado. When the story opens, they’ve been abandoned by their mother, but even when she was there, they were exposed to her drug use and the parade of men who came and went from her life. In these unsavory conditions, Sadie grows up fast and ends up taking on a mothering role to her younger sister. Unfortunately she can’t keep her sister safe from a danger that lurks at their door and 13-year-old Mattie is found murdered. Heartbroken, Sadie sets out to find the man she believes did it and get her revenge. Her disappearance captures the attention of a podcaster who decides to tell her story as a true-crime podcast.

Why I Liked It: The actual story is a nail-biter. Sadie has to painstakingly work through a series of clues to find her way to the murderer. It’s not easy. People don’t want to talk and those who do cannot necessarily be trusted. Revenge, it turns out, is dangerous work. There were several instances where I was terrified for Sadie’s sake, but she is also one of the most resourceful characters I’ve come across in awhile. It was truly impressive watching her work her way through the mystery of what happened to her sister. Author Courtney Summers’ writing also brings a lot of depth to the story as Sadie reflects on her life and contemplates what seeking revenge will cost her.

If I didn’t mention how amazing the podcast aspect was in the storytelling, I’d be doing this book a big disfavor. Initially, I actually found myself more drawn into the podcast chapters over those ones narrated by Sadie. It felt like I was really getting to delve into a real story and reminded me of other true crime podcasts I’ve listened to like Serial and Criminal. The podcast aspect of the story was a really effective way to reflect on Sadie’s journey and get a better overall picture of just what was going on, since the podcasters were always a couple of steps behind Sadie. 

Who Will Like It: This is a Young Adult thriller, but is a perfect read for adults who love mystery and suspense. Readers who enjoyed “Vanishing Girls” by Lauren Oliver, “Who Killed Christopher Goodman?” by Allan Wolf, or “Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen M. McManus will want to check this one out.

Audiobook fans should not pass up this one given its unique presentation. And readers who normally shy away from audiobooks should consider giving this one a chance.

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