YA Weekend: Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong

Mogsy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tundra Books (April 11, 2023)

Length: 368 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Kelley Armstrong’s work, but I must confess that, to date, I’ve only pretty much read her adult thrillers. Someone is Always Watching is my first venture into her YA, and I’m thinking, Hmm…maybe I’ve been spoiled.

The story here is a bit dysfunctional, and well, to tell the truth, so are all the characters. We follow a group of teenagers—our protagonist Blythe, her friends Gabrielle, Tucker, and Tanya—as they navigate high school life through several traumatic events. First, Gabrielle experiences paranoia which culminates in a mental breakdown, coming back to herself afterward with no memory of what happened or why is drenched in blood with the dead body of the school’s principal at her feet. Things are not the same between the four friends after that, as Blythe struggles to come to terms with what Gabrielle is thought to have done.

Meanwhile, brother and sister Tucker and Tanya are having problems of their own. Memory lapses and unsettling dreams plague their day-to-day, putting stress on their relationships. Formerly tight with the siblings, Blythe now begins to question all her friendships with no idea who she can trust. Then suddenly, Blythe’s sister Sydney goes missing, but the teens’ parents, supposedly adults that they can trust, all seem to know something they’re not telling.

If the above summary feels vague, that’s because I don’t want to accidentally reveal any spoilers. Also, this book was just strange and, if I’m being brutally honest, kind of a hot mess. All this makes it hard to discuss any story details. The plot was disjointed and chaotic; we jumped from scene to scene with poor transitioning, seemingly with no rhyme or rhythm. While there were twists aplenty, these didn’t seem too well thought out, and felt either too predictable or too unconvincing.

Then there were the characters. On the positive side, I liked how the story explored the psychology of mistrust and gaslighting, and enjoyed the way the author wrote about Blythe and her friends’ reactions to having their identities slowly being stripped away. After all, if you are a product of your life experiences, what does it mean when you can’t remember or start doubting the veracity of your memories? Still, I often found myself frustrated by the teens’ passive responses and lack of ability to come up with any real solutions. Round and round they went, going nowhere fast and dealing with too much trivial drama.

I suppose if you are into YA thrillers, this one is perfectly serviceable. It’s twisty, it’s fun, it’s a little edgy. It has plenty of suspense and even some romance. On the surface, it checks all the boxes, but for me, I personally wanted something more. I also think I’ve come to expect much more from Armstrong as a writer, and this book felt lacking in polish compared to the quality I’m used to from her work. The story didn’t flow as smoothly, the pacing was wonky, the themes weren’t very well realized—everything was in place but just felt a little…off.

That said, if you are a Kelley Armstrong fan, Someone is Always Watching is probably still worth reading, but I will say it’s probably my least favorite of her books that I’ve read so far. And okay, it’s also possible that I might have just hyped myself a bit too much for this one. Though I won’t say no to her future YA, next time I’ll definitely learn to adjust my expectations.

11 Comments on “YA Weekend: Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong”

  1. YA can really be hit or miss for me. Sometimes I find one I absolutely love, and other times they feel like it seems this one did for you.


  2. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 05/07/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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