Review: Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text.

Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth.

I received Dead Girls Don’t Lie from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, my review copy was so messed up with random lines (and later, entire paragraphs) of gibberish on my Kindle that I had to wait until the book’s release to purchase a copy so that I could read it. I read on Goodreads that this was a common problem. I don’t think most of the other reviewers purchased their own copy, but I really wanted to read this one.

Jaycee is the stupidest main character I’ve come across in quite a while. After someone puts a message with a gang symbol on her father’s bedroom door in the middle of the night, which likely means a GANG MEMBER WAS IN HER HOUSE, she continues to wander around town alone, even at night. One night her father goes out of town for work and she’s sent to stay at a friend’s house. The next day, she’s shocked to find her dresser drawers have been riffled. She ignores all warning signs and knowingly walks right into danger numerous times. It’s like she knows that nothing truly bad can happen to her because she’s only a fictional character. I’m not sure whether this is just her innate stupidity or if it’s because she’s really, really sheltered by her overprotective father.

Near the end of the book, one character tells Jaycee:

You aren’t stupid or naive. You just see the good in everyone because you’re good.

I don’t know, I’m still going with stupid.

She’s also portrayed as a “good girl,” but I just don’t see it. She lies to her father and the FBI, sneaks out of the house (even on the night Rachel died, so before she had a mystery to solve) to go to parties, snoops in her father’s law office, and hangs out with guys — including an ex-gang member — behind her father’s back. She’s not smoking, drinking, vandalizing property, or having unprotected sex, but she’s not the innocent angel that the book tries to claim she is either.

The other characters aren’t much better. Rachel — that’s right, the dead girl — is probably the most interesting. In the course of her investigation into Rachel’s murder, Jaycee discovers some surprises about the friend she thought she knew so well. Jaycee’s father is extremely overprotective, to the point where Jaycee (who is 16) doesn’t even have the password to the family his computer and he monitors her cell phone usage. None of the other characters have much personality. Skyler and Eduardo have potentially interesting backstories, but those are only mentioned, not really explored.

Aside from the characters, I actually like Dead Girls Don’t Lie. The inclusion of gang members/ex-gang members and a community of migrant workers isn’t something I’ve read in YA before. The mystery of who killed Rachel and another boy before her kept me guessing. It’s hard to know who Jaycee should trust, although there are several characters who are obviously not on her side, even before the truth about the murders is revealed. More interesting and well-developed characters could have turned Dead Girls Don’t Lie into a 4 star book.

2 1/2 stars


  1. Wow, Jaycee sounds like a really frustrating character. I think I’ll pass on this one, even though I really liked the sounds of the synopsis. Great review 🙂
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