Book Review: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

22341147Title: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead

Author: Rebecca James

Format/Length: ARC Paperback/336 pages

Publisher/Date Published: October 1st 2014/Allen & Unwin

Category/Genre: New Adult (Seems more NA-ish than YA, but maybe that’s my own opinion) /Mystery-Thriller

Source: Won! (Thanks Eugenia @ Genie In A Book/Chasm of Books and Allen & Unwin)

Description: Cooper Bartholomew’s body is found at the foot of a cliff.

Suicide.

That’s the official finding, that’s what everyone believes.
Cooper’s girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They’d been
happy, in love. Why would he take his own life?

As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply
into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and
her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal.
Are those friends – and enemies – what they seem?
Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?

3/5 stars —

★★★☆☆

Pretty much, this was me when I saw the blurb:

interesting animated GIF

I was expecting something intriguing, thrilling, and engaging from this novel — and that’s exactly what I got.

This was a really good book.

I just want to say that first, because despite some of the issues that I had with the book, I really did enjoy reading it. I would read another novel by Rebecca James in a heartbeat; in fact, once my TBR pile has gone down a bit, I plan on reading her next novels as soon as I can. I’m so glad that I won a copy of this book, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to seek it out otherwise.

One of the strongest elements of the book, for sure, were the spectacularly crafted characters.

It’s so refreshing to read about characters that are so real and raw that they actually feel like real people. And when the people actually feel like people, so does their story. The story is told in several viewpoints — before Cooper died, and after.

Here is where my first issue was. The viewpoints.

love multiple view points, truly, I do. Yet not when it flicks between first and third point of view — that, my friends, not only is quite an uncommon thing to see in a novel, but frustratingly jarring, too. Copper and Libby’s chapters were written in first person — the two main characters — while some of the other side characters (Seb and Claire) were done in third person. This is just a personal preference of mine, not a fault on the author’s behalf. I just want to make that clear. I found the switching to be jarring and frustrating — suddenly, I was thrown right into a character’s head, then was yanked out for Claire or Seb’s, into a close third person.

Capital Cities animated GIF

Second issue: This was predictable.

I saw everything that came, and as the mystery surrounding Cooper’s death unravelled, it was a little anti-climatic. I loved how the characters all worked together — or, in some cases not worked together — to discover what really happened to Cooper. Did he really kill himself? Was he murdered? Those are the sorts of questions that are going to be swirling around your head while reading this.

… But like I said, there was nothing shocking about this.

To me, this was more of a story of letting go, of dealing with a loved one’s lost than a story that’s going to blow your mind. And that’s okay — I was just expecting something more from the ending.

idk animated GIF

But hey — let’s not dwell on the negatives! Go read this book!

It was enjoyable. It was sad. It was well written. It was a really good novel.

Read it!

Have you read Cooper Bartholomew is Dead? Do you agree/disagree with my review? Let’s discuss!

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15 thoughts on “Book Review: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

  1. Interesting you mention the different viewpoints. I have occasionally read that in dual-POV, where one is first person and one is third – I don’t mind it then. It might be a little jarring if there are more than one for each, though. I own Sweet Damage, so I think I might pick that one up before searching out Cooper Bartholomew – goodness knows I need to read some of the books on my TBR :P

  2. Ugh I hate predictable and bad viewpoints. Sooo much. But I love good characters and suicide books…so maybe I’ll like this? I don’t know. I read an excerpt of the first few chapters on some other blog, and I liked it, so maybe I’ll just read this. The library perhaps? Who knows. Great review!

    (Love the use of the animal jury gif. How cute.)

    • (I was so proud of myself for coming across that gif. :P)

      Even if you don’t like predictability and the POVs, I still do really recommend this one, Tori, I think you might really like it, It was very well written, so I could kind of overlook some of the issues I had with this one.

  3. I totally agree with this! SPOT ON REVIEW!! I actually really liked the book, but I had too many issues with it and ended up giving it 3-stars, too. Mostly because I just don’t like NA. *shrugs* It’s just not for me, you know? And my copy is an ARC cover with “this is a YA book” emblazoned on the front. Um. It is just not. It is SO NA. *ahem* So I was too keen on that. And then I got more and more depressed as the book went on because Cooper is a freaking nice guy! WHY’D HE HAVE TO GO DIE? I think the ending was a little anti-climatic too. :|
    Plus, maybe I’m just a picky person…but where were the cops?? I mean, doesn’t a suspicious suicide warrant at least an investigation? (Maybe I just watch too many cop shows…but still.)

    • Honestly, I’m not sure why they marketed this one as a YA! It wasn’t, really. Felt much more NA. (Though I haven’t read much NA, so….) I know, right?? This one definitely tugged on the heartstrings; I was really growing to love Cooper’s character. I never actually thought of the cops before — I don’t know why it never crossed my mind — but personally that didn’t much bother me; I think because there was a lot of substantial evidence suggesting suicide. But still, there SHOULD have been a more thorough investigation now that you mention it.

  4. NOOOOO I HATE WHEN THINGS SWITCH BETWEEN 1st AND 3rd. In fact, the worst combination is when that switch occurs between 1st-present and 3rd-present (A combination that I’ve had the unlucky chance of reading multiple of times now). 3rd-present just doesn’t work. I wish someone would realise that! I may avoid this based on that petty reason but it’s just too much for me to stomach right now (especially since I know that plenty of the other works currently on my TBR have normal tenses haha) But I do like a bit of mystery and don’t really mind things being predictable (because I feel so smart when I guess endings). Great review! Hopefully one day I’ll pick this up :D

    • I SO agree with you about third person/present tense! The only time that I’ve seen it done really, really well (as in, I hardly noticed it when I was reading the novel) was Patrick Ness’ More Than This? Have you read that one — If not, I definitely recommend it!

  5. I actually thought the switching first/third perspectives was done really well, I didn’t find it confusing but it did distance you from some of the characters a bit. It was an creative use of perspective, definitely!

    I didn’t see THAT ending coming at all, and it was nice to have something different for a psychological thriller. When we know the outcome in the beginning already though, I think that was where the predictable part came in. Awesome review Kara!

    • It certainly was interesting the way the author chose to write the story; and it wasn’t that I thought it was done badly, more that it personally wasn’t for me! I do think she’s a wonderfully talented author and I’m looking forward to reading more of her works. :D

  6. That rabbit jury is epic I tell you, EPIC!
    I usually can’t get into books with several different points of view, never mind having past and current tense thrown in there too, but I was just so compelled that it actually didn’t phase me with this one. Usually it would have so I can understand your frustration. I was actually surprised by the ending, but was even more surprised at myself actually. Even though on the first page we know what happens to Cooper, I was still really emotional at the end for all that Libby had lost. I was so wrapped up that I didn’t even realise that I wouldn’t have that happy ending I usually crave.
    Brilliant review Kara <3

  7. Oooh, I haven’t started this book yet but I received a copy in the mail for review. I’ve heard some really positive things about this book, so I’m excited to start it. I don’t get surprised by mysterious plots easily, so I’m still in search of a book that can wow me and make my jaw drop. I hope it’s less predictable for me than for you. Wonderful review lovely x

  8. I’m really interested in reading this book (I was actually going to buy it last week, but it’s so BIG), but I haven’t heard a lot about it. However, the synopsis sounds pretty cool. And I love the fact that the characters are awesome. The viewpoints sound as though they may annoy me, but I’ll have to wait and see about the predictability – sometimes I’m okay with that.

    Thanks for a fantastic review, Kara! :)

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