This Golden State / Marit Weisenberg / Book Review


Poppy knows the rules. She can't tell anyone her name. She can't ask her parents any questions. And when it's time to go, there can be no hesitation and no mistakes.

After seventeen years on the run, these rules are all Poppy knows. She doesn't know why her family is running. She doesn't know her parents' real names. She doesn't know who she is, not really.

And after seventeen years without a clue, she thinks it's high time she found out. Even if that means sneaking behind her parents' back to take a DNA test. She's not the criminal, right? Surely nobody will be looking for her.



This book was really, really good, but I also... didn't have strong feelings about it. There's nothing wrong with it, really. There's a lot that's great about it. It just doesn't feel like something that'll stick with me. Do you ever feel that way?


Engaging Voice Marit Weisenberg nails the character voice from the first page. Poppy really sucks you into the story from the start. The setup, the settings, even the characters themselves are no different than one might expect from a YA thriller. Even so, something about Poppy's voice is very engaging. Though this book doesn't, immediately, reach new places within the genre, I was pulled right into the story from page one.

Lowkey Though the plot is high-stakes, the narrative itself is lowkey. This is such a nice change of pace when so many YA thrillers are high melodrama (which is definitely not my thing). There are some downsides to the lowkey-ness of this story that I'll mention down below, but it was still nice to have a thriller that isn't quite so breakneck and hyperbolic.

STEM Girl It's great to have a female character interested in STEM in a YA (or any!) book. It's especially great here because Poppy's interested in an underrepresented subject: mathematics. She's a logical character struggling to set down roots in a world where she's constantly on the move, and that's why she latches onto math: the only constant between school curriculums. Math is logical and sensical. It follows rules, and that's something she clings to. And I love this reasoning, this backstory, as much as I love the math-girl rep.


While I liked the lowkey nature of this story, it was ultimately slow-moving. And that's such a weird experience in a thriller. At a tenth of the way through the book, we were just getting to the location where the plot would happen. Up until that point, it was all transition time, and it seems weird to have spent so much time on that transition, that move to a new location--especially since this moving-around is supposedly an all-the-time occurrence for Poppy, not something novel or exciting. The pacing was just off. Slow-Mo

The lack of information was super frustrating here. I know that was part of the plot, as Poppy tries to fill in the blanks surrounding her family, but it comes back to pacing again. The pacing was off on the slow revelations, the pulling back layers of the mystery, and that was very irritating for me as a reader. I should have known more and felt more earlier on--just hints, as the character starts piecing things together. This glacially slow revelation added to the slow-motion-ness of the plot itself. Frustration

Maybe this was for dramatic effect. I'm not sure about the reason. Whatever this case, it definitely wasn't effective. More often than not, the scene and chapter breaks tricked me into thinking that I got to have a break myself, but the exact same scene would continue right after the page break. This was frustrating, because I often had to look back to figure out what, exactly, was going on. There shouldn't be a break where it makes no cognitive sense! This style of narrative break reminded me of Dale M. Courtney's infamous book Moon People. Check out the Huff Post review, and I'll say no more. Mid-Scene Breaks



Fans of Courtney Summers's The Project will appreciate the more serious tone to this new YA thriller. Those looking for layers of family secrets after Rory Power's Burn Our Bodies Down will appreciate these complicated family dynamics.


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Date: March 1, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley and Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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