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Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch


Title: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: July 21, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
Pages: 304
More by this author: N/A

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .
Every  so often I feel the urge to read a dark, fast-paced thriller and Amanda Panitch's Damage Done - which was moved to the top of my reading list after I saw Roxane Gay tweet about how great it was - definitely fit the bill.

Interestingly, I've read a number of books tackling school shootings in the last few months. Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash, This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (out in January 2016), and now Damage Done. Even though this is, obviously, a very emotional and difficult topic to read about, I'm actually thankful that I've read these books in rather rapid succession. With each fresh in my mind, it's given me the opportunity to compare them. Each author has handled the topic of school shootings, the causes, and the aftermath in unique ways and I appreciate each book for various reasons. The topic is a delicate one, but I believe it's important to offer readers different perspectives and these three authors provide that.

Damage Done gives, in my opinion, the most accessible option for readers who are open to a novel featuring such a dark event would rather avoid the emotional drain. Both Banash and Nijkamp give very immediate and realistic depictions of the tragedy of a school shooting. Nijkamp's novel is set during the shooting and relates a number of POVs, Banash's is set directly after and is from the POV of the shooter's sister. Both novels are well worth reading, but I fear some readers might shy away from their heaviness. Damage Done, on the other hand, takes place some time after the shooting and focuses very little on the trauma of the event. The mental state of the shooter and how his actions affect his family are discussed, but they are not the focus of the novel.

In truth, this novel is more of a psychological mystery thriller featuring a potentially unreliable narrator. The shooting is integral to the story, but is not the focus. It's twisty and fast-paced - readers will immediately be pulled in and will be loathe to set it down until all of its secrets are revealed.

I definitely recommend Panitch's Damage Done, especially if you're looking for a story that will keep you guessing and engaged! Read this one if you enjoyed E. Lockhart's We Were Liars or Becca Fitzpatrick's Black Ice.


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