I told you there would be a few blog tours this month! This one is for The June Boys by Court Stevens, a bit of a departure from the usual fare here on Libri Draconis. Rather than fantasy or science fiction, The June Boys is a YA murder mystery, and although I read them far to rarely, I do still have a soft spot for a good crime novel. There has been a recent resurgence of great YA mysteries and thrillers, and I’m all here for it – if you’re intrigued by The June Boys, check out the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer, and vice-versa!
Check out the tour schedule on the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s site to see all of the other amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers participating and read what they think of The June Boys. There is also a giveaway for a finished copy of the book for one lucky US participant, which you can enter by clicking on this Rafflecopter link!
As always, thank you so much for having me, FFBC, and thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!
RELEASE DATE: 03/03/2020
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: The Gemini Thief could be anyone. Your father, your mother, your best friend’s crazy uncle. Some country music star’s deranged sister. Anyone.
The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper, who takes three boys and holds them captive from June 1st to June 30th of the following year. The June Boys endure thirteen months of being stolen, hidden, observed, and fed before they are released, unharmed, by their masked captor. The Thief is a pro, having eluded authorities for nearly a decade and taken at least twelve boys.
Now Thea Delacroix has reason to believe the Gemini Thief took a thirteenth victim: her cousin, Aulus McClaghen.
But the game changes when one of the kidnapped boys turns up dead. Together with her boyfriend Nick and her best friends, Thea is determined to find the Gemini Thief and the remaining boys before it’s too late. Only she’s beginning to wonder something sinister, something repulsive, something unbelievable, and yet, not impossible:
What if her father is the Gemini Thief?
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death, suicidal ideation
OPINIONS: Oh, YA, you wonderful genre where teenagers bumbling along using scraps are always the ones that find the culprit before the trained professionals in possession of the full evidence and data, please never change. As it is often the case with these kinds of books, The June Boys requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief to make the story work. It is interesting that for me, mysteries are much harder to just take at face value than fantasies, where I don’t have this issue at all.
However, The June Boys turned too much into a locked-house mystery once it became clear that Aulus’s disappearance was connected to the Gemini Thief. Blame was thrown around from character to character, as they were suspected and accused one after the other. Thea, as a main character, frustrated me to no end, as she had a tendency to trust or not trust others on a whim, sometimes changing her mind halfway through a conversation. At times, she would trust a complete stranger with her full life story and theories about the Gemini Thief, only to refuse to share a theory with someone who has proven trustworthy before.
What stuck with me was Aulus’s storyline. His harrowing experiences locked away were hauntingly told through letters written to a figure only named as ‘Elizabeth’. Days passing without food or water led to losing touch with reality and suicidal ideation, descending into desperation.
My main issue with the story was the feeling of ‘Deus ex machina’ that permeated the book. There were plot holes gaping open (why is the FBI spearheading the investigation in Thea’s town, when all the June Boys except Aulus, who might not even be one, have gone missing in a different state, and why is everyone in Thea’s town panicking that their sons might go missing?), incredible coincidences of timing and entirely too much trust put in God. I also had the weird feeling that I had read this book before, but I don’t know why – if you know of a similar book published a few years ago, please let me know!
Overall, I did enjoy reading The June Boys, although I had some issues with the suspension of disbelief. If you’re slightly less knit-picky about your YA mysteries, I do recommend you give it a shot and see for yourself. Just because a book doesn’t work perfectly for me, doesn’t mean it won’t for someone else. You can add The June Boys on Goodreads here, and order a copy from Book Depository here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small town south. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, Olympic torchbearer and bookseller at Parnassus Books. These days she writes coming-of-truth fiction and is the Community Outreach Manager for Warren County Public Library. She has a pet whale named Herman, a bandsaw named Rex, and several novels with her name on the spine. You can find her at the following places: