Title: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
For fans of In a Dark, Dark Wood and Survive the Night comes a pulse-pounding, psychological thriller from the author of Six Months Later.
Damaged, Deceptive, Dangerous, Darling. When a group of teens wake up in the woods, these words are inked onto their skin. Are they labels? A warning? They must find the truth before a killer finds them.
While on a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts off Sera and three classmates from their group with no way to call for help. But they’re not as alone as they thought…
In One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards, a school sponsored camping trip turns deadly for the five teenagers and the two teachers accompanying them.
Plagued by endless rain, the senior camping trip soon takes a dark turn when Sera, Lucas, Jude, Emily and their teacher, Mr. Walker, are separated from Hayley, Madison and the other teacher chaperoning them, Ms. Brighton by flash flood. Planning to meet up the following day, the two groups set up camp and turn in for the night, but when Sera’s group wakes up the next day, they are horrified to learn they’ve been drugged and their camp, along with all of their provisions, has been destroyed. Even more chilling are the words inked on each of the teens’ wrists: deceptive, dangerous, damaged and innocently enough, darling. After finding Mr. Walker too drugged to wake up, they attempt to check on Hayley, Madison and Ms. Brighton but they are unable to cross the still flooded river. Climbing to higher ground, Lucas and Sera make a grisly discovery that convinces them the three have met a gruesome, and deadly, fate. The seeds of distrust between the classmates are soon sown, but in order to survive their frightening ordeal, the four teens must pull together if they are going to escape from the deranged stalker who continues to taunt them while leading them into danger.
Initially, Sera’s biggest problem with the camping trip (other than the miserable weather and plentiful bugs) is keeping her distance from Lucas. She and Lucas were involved the previous summer until she inexplicably broke things off and began going to great lengths to avoid him. Sera bristles with hostility and their exchanges are rather acrimonious until they are forced to work together to try to save themselves and their classmates. Underlying their interactions is a simmering attraction that flares up at very inopportune moments during their attempts to flee from their attacker. (Seriously, if you’re in fight or flight mode trying to evade a deranged killer, it seems somewhat ridiculous and highly implausible that you would even think, let alone actually act, on the impulse to flirt, kiss and moon over one another. Subtracted half a star for this unrealistic attempt to add in a romance.)
A newcomer to town, Lucas started off on the wrong foot during a soccer match and he now has a reputation as the school’s resident bad boy. He is constantly in trouble for fighting but this only adds to his appeal for his female classmates. Working with Lucas on a project for a school play, Sera discovered his softer side as they spent time together outside of school hours. Their flirtation culminated in a relationship of sorts, but Sera pulled back without explanation due to her unresolved issues from her parents’ divorce. As the situation in the woods becomes more ominous, can they set aside their differences and work together to try to save themselves along with Jude and Emily?
Despite being classmates, neither Lucas nor Sera knows Jude or Emily very well. Although Sera and Emily share a tent during the trip, they do not exchange confidences and Emily keeps mostly to herself. Jude is well-known for his musical talent, but he is a rather enigmatic figure. He and Emily gravitate toward one another due to their suspicions of the other members in their group. Will they be able put aside their mistrust long enough to help Sera and Lucas find their way out of the increasingly dangerous situation?
With plenty of suspense, a sense of urgency and shifting allegiances, One Was Lost is a fast-paced and compelling young adult mystery. The isolated setting is extremely creepy and the sinister events ratchet up the tension as the teens try to figure out who is targeting them and why. Despite having a fairly good idea about who is behind the attack, Natalie D. Richards throws in just enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing both the perpetrator’s identity and the motive for the nefarious scheme. With pulse-pounding action and an adrenaline filled final showdown, the novel comes to dramatic and mostly satisfying conclusion.