Release Day Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Tuesday, 21 July 2015
Damage Done, by Amanda Panitch
Publication: July 21, 2015, by Random House Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover Finished Copy
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

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. . .

My Thoughts:

I'm always a fan of those novels that deal with shootings and what happened afterwards. Amana Panitch's debut novel, Damage Done, is incredibly written and there's something in it that everyone can fall in love with. Whether you're the one who's completely obsessed with psychological thrillers (ahem, that's me!) or you long for a protagonist who sees beyond the negative points of a person. Julia's character truly shows that it's never too late to catch a killer.

Can I even explain my previous expectations? I had a feeling in my guts that this would be an ultimate new favourite read. The cover intrigued me, the summary left me ready to start the book wherever I was sitting, and I just longed for a kind of read like this. I can tell you that we barely are able to find a mystery like this that's associated with thrill and adrenaline at the same time, together. I adored the concept which Panitch focuses her book on, though the novel as a whole definitely isn't a favourite, or anything close to one.

"Ryan assured me later as I cried that I must have been imagining that glance, because he was my twin, my other half, and he would never do anything to hurt me. I was a female version of him, after all. We shared the same genes. Had been tied together before we were even born." (Hardcover, page 8-9)

Me to the novel.
What the cover and its catch-phrase tells you is exactly what the book's promotion is trying to tell you. Julia was the lone survivor of the shooting attack which her twin brother, Ryan, created. It was in the music room of her school, and her teacher, best friend and boyfriend all had been killed, with others. Now, Julia keeps her identity as Lucy Black and has moved to a new town to get a fresh start. There, the memories of that very day still haunt her as she tries to see the good in her brother, and believes that he's trying to contact her somehow.

Julia's character frustrated me. I mean, she was the worst part of the novel. Although it does seem nice that she saw the good parts of her killer brother (he also had mental issues which kind of changes the story), she can't just love him. I wouldn't, at least. And please don't call me a bad person. I guess that this is Panitch's way of having readers provoking some thoughts after reading. We try to think about the themes which were introduced throughout the novel and how they may affect us. Loving your brother when he's done that? That wouldn't be something that I could stand up to.

She seemed too gullible and sad all of the time. When she was trying to prove her brother right and the cops wrong, she did it in the weakest way possible—by falling in love. I understand the connection between her and her brother (and for the fact that she didn't get injured, really) because they seemed to do everything together before the incident, but I was like "meh" with the idea of Julia/Lucy trying to keep her thoughts on a positive note while he parents didn't even want to mention the horrifying event ever again. For some people, that fresh start doesn't work at all, just like it didn't for Julia.

The idea of changing your whole identity to stay away from the media and keep your family's secrets burdened was extra cool. I've never read about anything like that before, to tell you the truth. You know, you usually hear about different situations where characters want a fresh start—because their pasts may be so overwhelming. But to me, they did this for a completely different reason. The Vann family is one intelligent family, and it's like they exactly knew what to do when hell broke loose. I was kind of sitting there, smiling when they did the right thing, you know?

"Love, Julia. I paused and stuck the end of the pen in my mouth, considering whether I should scratch out Julia and write Lucy, who was, after all, who I'd been for over a year. I left it as it was. Lucy had never really existed, and she certainly didn't exist anymore." (Hardcover, page 137)

Amanda Vanitch's writing is fabulous. She certainly knows how to intrigue a reader and leave them reading until the book is actually over. And as for a plus, I'm a huge fan of these deep standalones where I can't think about anything else other than the mystery. She spends a huge chunk of time looking over friendship and romance, which went hand in hand with the rest of the novel. For a person who was totally supposed to be depressed, Julia did make some memorable friendships that changed the way she looked at things. She fell in love in her new town, with a guy (whose name I can't even remember, which tells you how much I actually cared) and made a friend who initially looked 'weird.' Yay for that.

Damage Done probably won't stick in my mind for the rest of the year, but it is a great read overall. Julia's lacking of personality kind of disrupted my whole reading experience, but hey, at least I got to take a peek at some nice 2015 debut writing, right? Julia Vann will become: your best book friend or your enemy of the lack of being able to relate to her. For me? A little between both, but that's the damage done to this read.

*A finished copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some other nice shooting-thrilling reads? Marieke Nijkamp's This is Where it Ends looks fabulous as well!

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