Fast-paced and intricately plotted, I Hope You’re Listening is a fresh addition to the mixed media + podcast motif in thrillers that fans of Sadie will want to pick up!
About I Hope You’re Listening
Publisher: Albert Whitman | Release Date: October 6, 2020 | Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller | Format: Physical ARC | Source: Publisher
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My Review for I Hope You’re Listening
Okay so listen: Keep This to Yourself is one of the best YA mystery/thrillers I’ve ever read and landed Tom Ryan on my insta-buy list for YA thrillers. Of course as a result my expectations going in were super high, the author delivered another thrilling queer YA mystery that I devoured in one 4-hour sitting!
Ten years ago, Dee witnessed her best friend’s abduction while they were playing hide and seek in the woods by their houses. She’s been plagued by guilt that despite her best efforts she wasn’t able to give the police information that could lead to Sibby’s recovery. For the past year, she’s been bringing together a true crime army to solve other cases through her podcast Radio Silent.
“The idea for a podcast arrived about a year ago, on a night like tonight. I was lying awake in bed, wallowing in helplessness, when all of a sudden, something shifted. I’d had enough. There had to be something I could do.”
I like the fresh perspective this brings to the mixed-media podcast element of books like Sadie and I Killed Zoe Spanos. Plagued with sleepless nights and anxiety, Dee works through her feelings by assuming her Seeker identity to shine a light on countless other unsolved cases. She couldn’t bring closure to Sibby’s disappearance, but with her podcast she enlists the help of true crime fans to bring that closure to others. But she’s been careful to keep her real life and her Seeker persona separate, so when another girl goes missing in her town it brings a lot of unresolved feelings up for her and others in the town.
“But take it from me, even a sad ending is better than no ending at all, and that’s always been my goal: to deliver an ending to as many unfinished stories as possible.”
The book begins with a flashback of the day Sibby went missing ten years in the past (okay, technically, it begins with a snippet of Dee’s podcast introduction but that’s not the point here), and the author conveyed so much information with the narrative voice’s tone. The flashbacks feel exactly how a child would tell a story with the sentence structure and focus on seemingly inconsequential pieces of information… and it immediately made me so protective of Dee. Many mystery/thriller stories are told with the past and present interwoven together in a nonlinear exposition. But let me tell you: Tom Ryan impressed me with his use of this storytelling device with the tonal shift between flashbacks and present day POVs!
I adore the side characters and Dee’s relationship with them so much. Her friendship with Burke especially is one I enjoyed, particularly the layers of complex history the two of them have. (PS. Burke must also be protected.) I absolutely adored Dee’s relationship with her dad – as well as the fact that her parents aren’t absent. As a side note… have you ever read a book and related with the parent before? Because uh… Dee’s dad is iconic with his blaring Soundgarden and flannel shirts and this is the first time I’ve felt my age and I’m having a CRISIS.
In case you aren’t aware, this book has a sapphic relationship. The new girl next door Sarah makes for a lovely addition to Dee’s life as well, and I appreciate her ride-or-die vibes. However, I’ll admit the romance came out of left field a bit for me. With first person perspective, I’m accustomed to more pining thoughts, so when the first kiss happened it felt a little unearned. But, I’m happy to report even though the romance went from zero to sixty, once established it was so soft and heartwarming!
This is a fast paced and intricately plotted read. There isn’t any downtime and every moment is full of tension that kept me guessing while describing the settings so well that I could picture it in my head. This wasn’t as twisty of a read but definitely surprised me, which is good because I tend to guess the culprits more often than not. I will admit there is one thing that bothered me about how everything wrapped up, which is more than likely as a result of my analytical way of reading more than anything else. (But for real, DM me if you wanna talk!)
If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts and books that incorporate podcast elements like Sadie and I Killed Zoe Spanos, this is definitely a book to TBR! I Hope You’re Listening is a fresh addition to the growing body of thrillers incorporating podcasts into the narrative with a fresh perspective. I am honestly such a fan of Tom Ryan’s YA mysteries and this one did not disappoint!
Representation: f/f relationship, LGBTQIAP+ (lesbian main character)
Content warnings: death, depictions of grief, drug & marijuana use,extreme religious depiction, loss of a loved one, slut shaming (challenged)
ARC sent by the publisher for my honest review. This did not affect the contents of my review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and may be changed upon final publication.
Recommended if you enjoyed…
Other Books by Tom Ryan
Are you a fan of true crime inspired mysteries? Have you read I Hope You’re Listening yet or is it on your TBR?