ARC Review: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

ARC Review: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
The Masked Truth
by Kelley Armstrong

Genres: Mental Illness, Thriller, Young Adult
Publication date: October 13th, 2015
by Doubleday Canada

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I am a major Kelley Armstrong fangirl so I knew I would love this book but I still ended up being surprised by it. The Masked Truth is so different from Kelley Armstrong’s YA novels in that it’s more mature and also happens to be a thriller (her YA books so far have been Urban Fantasy/Fantasy.)

One thing Kelley Armstrong has been good about is incorporating diversity in her novels and she does it again with a Hispanic female lead and also by discussing mental illnesses in a way that is heartbreaking but REALLY realistic and enlightening. I also appreciated that therapy was portrayed positively in the book (even with some of the things that happened.) The main character isn’t always on board with some of the things her therapist asks but getting help is NEVER mocked and I loved that.

Riley is suffering from PTSD after witnessing a couple she babysat for get murdered. She saved their daughter, but in her mind, because she hid under a bed, she is a coward and the fact that everyone considers her a hero makes it worse. When she and a bunch of other kids are held hostage, Riley really steps up her game to keep everyone together but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flashbacks or panics. I think her entire character is so fantastically developed. It’s realistic and makes it so easy to believe in Riley.

My favorite character is obviously Max who is unlike any love interest I’ve met so far. He is schizophrenic. And it’s really his struggle that makes this book stand out to me. When we first meet him, he seems like a classic case of bad boy and I was like *shrug* but the more I read and the more Kelley developed him, the more I fell in love.

Through Max, Kelley really looks at the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and specifically schizophrenia. Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about the illness but The Masked Truth really put into perspective the kind of prejudice people have and how hard it can be to deal with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia. In my limited knowledge of the illness, I’d say that Kelley did a fantastic job with dealing with the illness and never undermined its seriousness in any way.

As one can imagine, the romance between Riley and Max would be all kinds of interesting and it was. Given the situation they are in, being held hostage and all, the time frame within which their romance develops might make some readers see it as instalove but I was okay with it because Kelley really makes me root for these two. Their romance is built on understanding and team work rather than attraction (although there is that too) and I really liked that.

The thriller aspects, unsurprisingly, were amazing too. This book does get twisty but in a way that works and I enjoyed it. Of course, that could just be my bias since I adore Kelley Armstrong but I also think she just did a great job with the twists. She never throws unnecessary red herrings and nothing is predictable. Her twists also aren’t bizarre or unbelievable. They just make sense within the context of the story. It’s like watching pieces of a puzzle click rather than experiencing sheer surprise or shock.

The book does start off slow, and it wasn’t until the second half that I was really sucked in but Kelley has a way of writing stories that work for me and many other readers. I loved this book and hope that Kelley will write many more like it.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.3
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    I’ve never read anything by Kelley Armstrong. I think I should solve this soon. This look like a very engaging thriller, and plus, you say the love interest is schizophrenic and that the MC is Hispanic? GOD, I want that! Fantastic review, Rashika.
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  2. says

    I’ve never read Kelley Armstrong before because I’m not a big fantasy reader, but I heard from a blogger this was incredibly amazing and I’ve been intrigued ever since. I didn’t know the MC was a diverse character, but that only gives me even more reason to want to read it! I love a good thriller and they’re always handy to have on the shelf to get me out a slump. Oh, and I’m loving the sound of the LI. A bad boy is boring unless there’s great development, which there sounds like there is! Amazing review, now I’m even more looking forward to it!
    Rebecca @ Reading Wishes recently posted…Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick NessMy Profile

  3. says

    I’m in love with this review, Rashika! You definitely made me super enthusiastic about wanting to read the book. I love the sound of basically everything in the novel, but especially the realistic approach to mental illness. I’ve been avoiding a lot of mental health books because I worry they won’t be authentic, but this sounds right up my alley. And that romance and those characters! Gah I can tell I’m going to thoroughly enjoy this one.
    Thanks for the wonderful review, Rashika!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : A Thousand Nights by E.K JohnstonMy Profile

  4. says

    I’m a massive fan of Kelley Armstrong too, I adored her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series and had no idea she was branching out. This sounds absolutely incredible! I love books that portray mental illness realistically and not just a quick fix to wrap up a storyline neatly. This sounds amazing and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. That cover isn’t too flash though. Incredible review Rashika, loved it! <3
    Kelly recently posted…One by Sarah CrossanMy Profile

  5. says

    I am terribly upset that I have not picked up more of Kelly’s books, because her stories always seem amazing. I read Suicide Watch, and how she wrote about depression and anxiety was just so great that it broke my heart.

    I am going to get this one and read it, and see if I can’t catch up on her novels. I am thrilled that she seems to really have a corner in the market, and I’m excited to see her releases coming into the spotlight!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Epic Recs: UprootedMy Profile

  6. says

    Woah I had no idea the heroine was Latina! It makes me want to read this even more. I actually didn’t know about this book until someone on Twitter hosted a giveaway for it. And I added it to my TBR. But your review makes me even more excited for it. I’m so glad the romance was good because that added element is always my favorite <3.
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  7. says

    I am also a mayor Kelley Armstrogn fangirl, so I can’t wait till my pre-ordered copy finally arrives. I usually don’t read a lot of scary books, but I make an exception if Armstrong writes them. Riley sounds like a great main character with how she struggles, but still is brave too. And I like the sound of how you learn more about Max and the author developes him more as the story progresses. Great Review and I can’t wait to read this one!
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