Thursday, July 30, 2015

Deadfall by Anna Carey

Deadfall is an amazing suspenseful sequel to Carey's Blackbird. In the first novel "Sunny" who found herself inexplicably in Los Angeles with no previous memories of her life before, discovers she is part of a terrible game in which adults are hunting people for sport. The hunt has moved from an island which Sunny barely remembers, to various U.S. cities.The hunt is organized by A&A Enterprises (AAE) and consists of Watchers who keep track of the people being hunted making sure they are healthy and stay in a designated area, Stagers who tip off the hunters as to the location of the target and who clean up the dead bodies, and the hunters. The humans who are being hunted have been branded with a barcode tattoo on their wrists for identification.

Deadfall picks up where Blackbird left off. Sunny is preparing to board a train to Chicago when she runs into the boy she remembers from the island.  He tells her they are on the same train except he is going to New York and convinces her to go with him. On the train Sunny finds the private compartment that the boy has bought tickets for. He reveals to Sunny that they were supposed to meet up in San Francisco on the Friday of the second week. His memory returned and but Sunny's did not and she did not make the scheduled rendevous. When she doesn't remember he asks her why her memory has not returned when his has. The boy reveals his name as Rafe and hers as Lena Marcus. He tells her that they decided to meet in San Francisco because she has family there. Rafe also fills Lena in on what she told him about her life before the island - that her father died of a heart attack when she was fifteen and her mother abandoned her and her brother, Chris. She brought her brother to live with her aunt but eventually had to leave.

Rafe tells Lena that he is going to New York to find other "targets". Lena knows there are more targets in various cities across America because she saw pictures of the targets with code names next to different cities at an AAE meeting. While Rafe was waiting for Lena in San Francisco he found one other target, Connor in New York, who had also found one other target. Rafe explains how he was tricked into becoming a part of the hunt. He also explains to Lena how to successfully pickpocket a person, a skill that will lead later on to Lena making a crucial discovery.

At a McDonalds in New York, Lena discovers they are being watched by a hunter. Lena and Rafe manage to outwit the hunter and escape to the top of a building. While they are waiting, Lena continues to have dreams about the island. She tells Rafe about Ben, her Watcher in L.A. whom she fell for but who betrayed her. She also tells him about the police officer, Celia, whom she has told about the hunt. Rafe is shocked that Lena would trust the police but she tells him Celia believes her and is committed to helping her. Lena calls Celia who tells her that Izzy is recovering and that Goss is now in custody. But their case is not strong enough yet because Goss's lawyers are saying that he shot Izzy during a breakin to his house. Celia tells Lena that police found nothing in his house but that another body, that of a girl with a tattoo similar to Lena's has been found in Seattle. She's trying to prove now that this is much bigger than just Goss. Lena tells Celia that she's now in New York trying to find the other targets.

Lena and Rafe's hunt for Connor ends quickly when they discover that he has just been killed in a park. Rafe notices fresh graffiti, WBD + WY on a wall near Connor's body. They soon realize that they are being watched by a blond haired woman who along with a middle aged man begins pursuing them. Lena and Rafe split up, with Lena running into the subway and running onto the back of the last subway car. The woman manages to find Lena but before she can kill her Lena escapes onto the station platform and into the crowd. She finally escapes to a rooftop only to watch four hunters meet on the street below puzzled as to where she went. It is at this point that Lena realizes this is much bigger than just one hunter after her. They realize she was the one who turned in Goss and now they are determined to kill her.

Back in Los Angeles, Ben is being driven to the airport by someone from AAE but he has no idea what they want from him. A friend of Ben's father meets him at LAX and tells him that the girl he was watching has been spotted in New York. He wants Ben to find Lena for him and advises him to do everything AAE requests.

Lena heads to the library on Fifth Avenue where she posts an ad for Rafe on Craigslist, which is how he found Connor. Just before closing, Lena is found by Ben who insists he is there to help her. He tells her that he was sent to New York to locate her but that he now knows something terrible is going on. He became involved after his family discovered that his father, who did finances for Artemis & Acteon Enterprises, had been stealing money from the company. They offered Ben a job for a year in return for everything being forgiven. When Lena tells him what is actually going on Ben is shocked.

However Lena soon discovers that a hunter is in the library. The hunter corners Lena whom she calls "Blackbird" and is about to kill her when Ben intervenes, saving Lena. They flee to the Holiday Inn in Soho where they tend to Ben's shotgun wound, which turns out to be superficial. In the hotel room, Ben tells Lena that he found a cheque in his father's papers made out to Dr. Richard Reynolds, a neurologist at Bellevue Hospital. Reynolds ran drug trials for a memory suppressant drug funded by AAE that was used to treat soldiers suffering from PTSD. Lena now knows this is what she has been given so that she can't remember her past. She also determines that the graffiti near Connor's body is an address where the other targets meet. When she checks in with Celia in Los Angeles, she tells Lena that Goss was murdered in jail and that they need another suspect.

At West Broadway and Franklin, Lena and Ben find more graffiti, UR + HRE in the subway. They enter the tunnel and manage to meet up with Rafe who is upset about Ben's presence. They also meet more targets, Devon, Connor's girlfriend Salto, and Aggy. The group, after hearing about Dr. Reynolds, decide they need to track him down at Bellevue. Salto goes with Ben to the ER pretending to be sick, while Devon and Aggy watch the hallways and Rafe and Lena confront Dr. Reynolds.  Reynolds tells them that he was approached by a man who called himself Cal. He also tells them that there is a laudromat on Long Island in Hicksville, where he treated  several of the hunters and that it's used as a meeting place. The information that they received from Reynolds comes at a high price however, when Salto is shot through the shoulder.

At the Laundromat they confront a Stager named Krista Pollack who tells them that she overheard there is to be a meeting "on the ones". As Lena, Rafe and Ben pick up more clues that lead them closer to uncovering the truth about the hunt, the cat and mouse game with the hunters ramps up. Each clue leads Lena closer to a show down with the one man behind it all who will stop at nothing to save the hunt. Can Lena stop him and save herself and all the other targets?


Deadfall is simply an exhilarating, action packed finale to Carey's duology.  As in Blackbird, Carey employs second person narration for each of the characters who tell a part of the story. It works very well because it places the reader at the center of the heartpounding action as it occurs.  Tension is maintained throughout the novel as readers experience the discoveries and revelations along with Lena, bit by bit. The slow reveal leads to a thrilling confrontation and a terrible twist. Although the main narrative is that of Lena, Carey does employ several other narrators including Ben Paxton, a hunter named Theodore Cross and Dr. Reynolds, all of whom use third person narration.  These narratives help fill in some of the back story for characters who reappear later on in the novel and allow for breaks in the fast pacing of the novel.

Besides the obvious suspense that develops as Lena, Rafe and Ben attempt to track down the people responsible for the hunt, Carey sets up a minor conflict between Ben and Rafe. Although Lena has a past with both guys, she doesn't know who to trust, Rafe who she can't really remember from the island or Ben who betrayed her yet took a bullet for her. When Rafe and the other targets want Ben to leave, Lena tells them they need his help.  "You look between Rafe and Ben. Rafe, who you have known for so long but hardly know at all. And Ben, who you thought betrayed you but who says he loves you. You believe him." Thankfully this triad does not really evolve into a love triangle because Lena remains focused on catching the person leading the hunt. 

Memorable scenes from this novel include the discovery by Lena and Rafe of Theodore Cross's hidden room and the depth of the evil he has perpetrated. On Cross's wall are thirty medallions, each one bearing the silhouette of a different animal and eight numbers and letters and representing a person Cross has killed. Another well written scene is the final confrontation between Cross and Rafe and Lena which lasts a full six chapters and is filled with many tense moments.

The main character, Lena Marcus is a strong, intelligent and resourceful young woman who is determined to stop the hunt and to not allow what she has experienced change her for the worse. Cross insists that he has made Lena who she is now but she tells him, "You didn't make me anything...I am more than you -- than your twisted, messed up game." When Cross tries to get her to shoot him by provoking her to anger, Lena doesn't bite, She knows what Cross is trying to do and she does what she has to. 

Deadfall is a gritty thriller with a heartbreaking but satisfying conclusion. Teens who are looking an exciting mystery/thriller novel will enjoy both of Carey's offerings in this duology.

Book Details:

Deadfall by Anna Carey
New York: HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins    2015
243 pp.

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