Author: Romily Bernard
Published: Sept 24, 2013
Buy: The Book Depository
“He said if I told anyone, he’d kill me. I believe him. – Page 49 of Tessa Waye’s diary.”
With a twisted suicide mystery for a plot and a sharp-tongued hacker girl for a main character, Romily Bernard’s Find Me is the sort of book that, on the surface, instantly screams gritty and exciting. It’s precisely the reason why I wanted to read it – that, and the mention of trailer-park boy-next-door Griff, a fellow hacker and potential mystery-busting sidekick. Sadly though, this debut novel failed to impress. For me, the romance fell flat, the plot twists were disappointingly transparent, and the secondary characters felt strangely false. There are a few positive qualities – and Romily Bernard’s potential as a writer is not non-existent – but they are few and far between.
The story begins quite well, with genuine uncertainty and secrecy fuelling the plot. Wicket Tate, our protagonist, finds the diary of suicide victim Tessa Waye with a two-word instruction – find me – inscribed inside. We get snippets of Tessa’s diary throughout the book, generally at the start of each chapter. This simple technique adds some clever ambiguity to the mystery and is also (at times) nicely used in parallel to Wick’s own story. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat short-lived and not quite enough, with the rest of the tale ultimately unravelling in a very predictable way. When it becomes apparent from Tessa’s diary entries that an unnamed man is responsible for driving her to her death, Wick’s efforts become largely concentrated on working out who this culprit is. It’s actually painfully obvious from the start, and Wick’s inability to catch up in a timely manner (i.e. for about 60% of the book) is a little frustrating.
Predictability aside, Romily Bernard’s writing is not bad. It’s clear and concise, and suits Wicket’s personality fairly well. Although perhaps not an entirely memorable character, Wicket is undoubtedly strong-willed and capable of taking care of herself. The supposed bad attitude and sarcastic sense of humour is in fact not as prominent as might be expected, but it’s made up for with Wick’s reliable computer knowledge and impressive hacking abilities. She makes a few poor choices (or non-choices), some of which lack a shocking amount of logic, but she is not an unlikeable protagonist. It’s the remaining characters that could really do with the most work. Nearly all of them – including Bren and Todd, Wick’s foster parents – feel oddly distant, almost as if they are hollow shells with no real substance.
Griff is very nearly the worst, as the potential here is more than apparent. Throughout the story, we are given glimpses of the character that he could have been, a personality that is always nearly comfortable and right, but not quite within reach. The romance is somewhat inconsistent and lacking a spark as a result. There a few pleasant moments, but nothing considerable enough to justify the presence of a romantic plot at all. Nevertheless, it is quite slight and doesn’t in any way overshadow the rest of the story. But, with the thrill and suspense missing from the actual mystery, I wouldn’t have objected too much to have found it elsewhere. I rely heavily on characters and their relationships when storylines in genres like this fail to pack a punch.
Sadly, Find Me lacks too many things for it to be a title that I can easily recommend. While there are brief moments of promise scattered throughout, it isn’t quite enough to be redeeming.
Rating: 2.5 stars