*Thank you to Netgalley and Disney Books for providing me with an ARC. Please note that all of my thoughts are my honest opinions and that some parts that I quoted may have been changed as I did read the ARC.
#MurderTrending had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. The idea of Alcatraz 2.0 itself is rather quite creepy. An island where convicted felons go to live before they die sounds innocent enough until you add in the fact that the island is like a giant reality TV show, everybody watches your every move, and there are a bunch of serial killers who, well, want to kill you. I really liked how texts/ comments from the live streams were included as well as profiles. They helped to give life to the story and made it seem like you were reading the comments in real life. The comments also added extra information to the story that would have been hard to include without it.
There are about 7 killers on the islands. All have their own trademark and their own following on the Postman app. I think my favorite killer would be Gucci Hangman. He constructs a “designer noose... expertly crafted to match her complexion and outfit and the latest trends from New York Fashion Week”. Yes, I shouldn’t like these characters, but there is a certain appreciation that I have for the elaborate setups and thought that goes into each killing.
The other characters were okay. They all had their own personalities, but the Postman gave them roles (shown through their clothing) which made them (purposely) have very cliché personalities. The characters, while an effort was made to make them distinct, really just blended together. I am able to remember parts of a person, but not everything. The only character, besides Dee that I really remember is Mara. She is just this super analytical person who was able to use screenshots from the app to figure out who each killer was off the island. That information really proves useful!
The backstory felt a bit flat, unbelievable, and too coincidental. That being said, I really enjoyed Dee’s story and how her past is told in snippets. It isn’t described as a flashback chapter, as it is typically shown, but through flashbacks from triggers on the island. Being revealed in the story helped to keep the momentum of the story going, as opposed to stopping, giving a flashback, and then continuing with the story.
The world building was decent. Not a lot needed to be done and explained as #MurderTrending was set in a near future world, with the only main difference being Alcatraz 2.0. However, some parts were weird. For example, what happened to the eighth amendment? That there are to be no cruel and unusual punishments? I mean, it might just be me, but making convicts be televised living their lives and being (often brutally) killed, is very unusual and cruel. A mention is made about this amendment and how a killing (a decapitation) would be violating the amendment. Maybe something was done about the amendment, perhaps the fact that it was government-sanctioned made it okay, but it just wasn’t mentioned. I also wish that there were more descriptions of the island. Snippets of information were given, but I was never able to form a complete image of what it looked like.
As much as I really wanted this book to be wonderfully original and unpredictable, it fell short. I had pretty much figured out who The Postman was early on and basically how the story would end. Some parts were really easy to see through which ruined the suspense for me. One element that really bothered me was that the “you saw us doing this, but what you didn’t see was this, and now look! you just fell into our trap” trick was used. I feel like it’s often like a cop-out. I’m pretty sure that I let out a sigh when the trick was “revealed.”
I also feel the need to mention that there is a lot of gore and a lot of strong language.
Overall, this book was fine. Going in, I knew that I would really like the story. I had higher hopes for the book, as it was very predictable which ruined the suspense. The characters partially blended together but that may be because The Postman pretty much made the people fit into a specific role. That being said, the story was interesting, and I couldn’t put it down. Even though I knew what was going to happen at points, I just needed to see how it was done. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, gory, suspense story!