He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.
Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.
I was intrigued from the synopsis, but wasn't entirely sure what to expect going in. I shouldn't have been confused. The book was every bit as dark as the synopsis led me to believe, and more. The book opens with a scene where Archer is forcing one of the many people who harmed Vivian to write his own suicide note. Opening line of the novel:
“I feel that suicide notes lose their zing when they drag on too long.”
Now just try to tell me that the line doesn't get your attention. But here's what's really remarkable about the novel. As much as we should hate Archer for being a murdering sociopath, we don't, because he's been hurt so badly, and is just doing what will help his best friend heal from her emotional wounds. And I love that he's vulnerable, and shy, and was Vivian's perfect little abused puppy dog, always lagging at her heals no matter how many times she kicked him. Bottom line, Archer was a real, three-dimensional character.
And then comes Evan. Now, Archer has ALWAYS been in love with Vivian, but his feelings start to shift when Evan enters the picture. The change is subtle and the way we see that relationship develop feels very real. I admired how this wasn't an "issue" novel - certainly Archer's exploration into his sexuality wasn't the focus of the novel - and yet it was portrayed in an acceptable and positive light. I really admired York's skill in making me root for Evan and Archer's budding relationship.
Finally, you shouldn't think that this novel is all touchy-feely Archer's relationships with Vivian and Evan. People die. Quite a few people, actually. The cops knock more than once on Archer's door. And the tension is thick when Vivian starts coming unglued and demanding Archer pick her over Evan. You won't want to stop turning the pages right to the very end, as you demand to know: will he get caught? will Vivian rat him out if she gets caught? what's going to happen to sweet Evan?
All will be answered in a satisfying, yet far-from-perfect ending.
This is unquestionably an upper YA novel (not for those MG readers who "read up") and will appeal to adults as well. But, you've got to be prepared for DARK themes and to look at homosexuality from an open-minded perspective. Overall, I give the novel 4 Greek coins -- an OMG! rating. I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to embrace the twisted, yet hopeful, story HUSHED has to tell.