Book Review: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Posted December 7, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

Book Review: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Published by Doubleday Canada on October 13, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Omens, Wild Justice, Sea of Shadows, Visions, City of the Lost, Forest of Ruin, Betrayals, A Darkness Absolute, Indigo, Rituals, The Unquiet Past, This Fallen Prey, Stolen, Rough Justice, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, Dark Screams: Volume Nine, No Humans Involved,, Waking the Witch, Portents, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Otherworld Secrets, Wherever She Goes, "The Case of the Half-Demon Spy", "Truth & Consequences", "Territorial", "Escape", "Adventurer", Otherworld Chills, A Stranger in Town, "Bargain", Hex on the Beach, "Recruit", "Checkmate", "Framed"

The Masked Truth is a heart-stopping psychological thriller.

Don’t expect this to be anything like a typical Armstrong story, for it’s not. It is, however, extremely(!!!) well done, and I wish I could give it a “10”.

My Take

Part of me was desperately turning pages as fast as I could, and another part of me wanted to put the book down, to catch my breath, to find a moment. Ah, god, Max, oh god, Max is such a sweetheart. All that promise and now all the struggling he must endure.

And what an excellent depiction of what schizophrenia must be like for people. No, I have no clue for myself — thank you, God — but Armstrong’s descriptions feel so true.

I’m so impressed with Max…

“…he hadn’t cared when he was corrected, hadn’t been embarrassed to use the wrong word, because you won’t learn if you don’t try.”

I’m really impressed by how well Armstrong maintained her consistency in Max’s dialogue. And yes, it was rather irritating to read because I wanted to get on with the story! And. Yes. It was effective in providing a sense of what Max has to endure.

“‘Couldn’t quite get the grades for med school, I presume?’

The man’s eyes narrow.

‘You don’t appreciate the insult? After you suspected me of stabbing Riley? I’m not sure which is more egregious — the presumption that by dint of having schizophrenia, I clearly did this, or the presumption that I’m not bright enough…'”

Armstrong isn’t clear that Riley cancels her dream date to do this favor for Shannon. It sounds more as if her dream date got canceled, so she’s doing this favor for Shannon, after all, what else is she going to do? My trying to figure this one out — added to the confusion created by Riley’s reflections at the start of chapter 1 — and I lost some of the terror that Armstrong had already started to build.

Not to worry, though. It soon ratcheted back up!

Loved Maria’s T-shirt: “Crazy on the Inside”. I want one. And, I hate what happens to such a rebellious young lady! She had such promise. As for Max, oh lordy, that boy has got some mouth on him! He was cracking me up at the start. It’s a contrast that will emphasize how hopeless his future is. I also loved it when Brienne spoke up at the start, lol. “…Are you still here? Didn’t they drug you guys or something?” Too true, too true. Aaron is an odd kid. A snotty rich kid who turns out to actually be a good guy but with a cynical attitude.

The story is primarily a switching between Riley’s and Max’s viewpoints as we learn of the emotional and mental issues wreaking havoc in their lives. Riley’s is so frustrating with her sense of guilt warring with what her father might have done and what she believes she should have been able to do. Part of me wants to slap her upside the head, but I also understand that logic doesn’t work in a situation like this.

As for Max, he does make me laugh even as I want to cry. The talking he does in his head about his parents’ interactions, his interactions with them, his own thoughts about what’s happening to him will break your heart. Make you want to take his parents in hand and scold them. It’s so hard for Max, after all the talk about how successful he would be, how successful he already…had been, how emotionally torn he is between being a typical teen and one who has had his life ended, metaphysically.

The way in which Armstrong wove in all this mental angst with the situational horrors was amazing. It read like real people were the characters with real reactions in a terrifying nightmare that doesn’t seem to ever end.

So typical of authority figures…it makes me want to scream!

“Two minutes ago you were telling me to calm down, because I was clearly distraught. Now I’ve done as you asked, and you’re faulting me for it?”

The kissing scenes cracked me up as well. Max keeps insisting Riley stop him, and she finally tells him that it’s his own fault. If he wants to stop, he should.

No worries…, it’ll be “right as rain.”

The Story

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for, and Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues”. But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next — but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

The Characters

Seventeen-year-old Riley Vasquez is experiencing one traumatic episode after another this past eighteen months. Sloane is her older sister with an interest in karate and dance. Their father was a cop who had been on the SWAT team. Their mother is a fashion designer.

Eighteen-year-old British Max Cross (don’t call me “Maximus”) has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. A boy with tremendous promise and now he has to cope with this “life sentence”. He loves to read and write. He’s brilliant. And he’s terrified. His very protective mother is a history professor specializing in ancient Rome at Oxford. His father is a lieutenant general with his own PTSD issues. His parents never married. Justin was his best friend. Ilsa Morton was the next girl in whom Max was interested. Mr. Robb is Max’s lawyer.

Therapy weekend camp is…
…set in an old warehouse and is intended to help the teens deal with the trauma in their lives. Aimee Carr and Lorenzo are the counselors for the weekend. Sandra, Aaron Highgate, Maria Lawrence, Max, Brienne Ruskin, and Gideon are the teens attending camp along with Riley.

Lewis Highgate is Aaron’s very wealthy dad. Chris has been Aaron’s friend since their childhood. River is Brienne’s bad-boy brother.

Gray, a.k.a., X-Files, is wearing the alien mask, Predator wears a mask from the Predator movie, and Cantina is wearing a mask from the Star Wars cantina scene.

Agent William Salas is the hostage negotiator. Detectives Buchanan and Wheeler investigate the so-called kidnappings.

Lucia is one of Riley’s friends; Shannon had been her friend. Travis was the gorgeous boy for whom Riley had planned the date. Claire and David Porter need a babysitter for their daughter, Darla.

The Cover and Title

The cover is warm urban decay with a cracked, pitted, and yellowed concrete wall…one crack is wide enough for Riley to peer through. The author’s name is in a strong white with the title, in a sense of reflection, exactly the same size directly below Armstrong’s name but in a faded, more transparent white. There’s blood as well, but it separates the author’s name from the title. Or maybe…it’s pulling them together.

The title is too accurate as Max and Riley find out The Masked Truth.

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