Review: Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review.*

It was a dream vacation until it wasn’t. Josh Reuter and his beautiful influencer girlfriend Amelia Ashley just spent almost two weeks in Europe. They visited Paris, France for a couple of days and spent the rest of the time in Rome, Italy.

But on their last day in Rome at a nice restaurant, Amelia started going crazy. She yelled at Josh, smashed the glass wine bottle and ran away…right before they needed to leave for the airport. Josh went back to San Diego alone, not understanding why Amelia acted that way.

Nobody has heard from Amelia by the time Josh gets home. She never made the flight, nobody has seen her and she hasn’t posted on social media. Everyone thinks Josh had something to do with it, but there isn’t any proof.

At the same time, Amelia’s friend Tori is worried Josh isn’t telling the whole truth. Tori reaches out to Harper Delgado, San Diego State’s resident hacker, in hopes that she can help find Amelia. At first Harper is reluctant, until she does some digging and realizes that this situation is much more than a missing influencer and her lying boyfriend. Amelia wasn’t who she said she was…she had a secret life.

The more time goes by, Josh becomes more suspicious, especially to the cops who identify him as a person of interest. To make it worse, when his bag returns from Europe late, Amelia’s blood is found in it. #WhereisAmerliaAshley and what in the world happened to her?

We had no idea what to expect when we picked up Going Dark. In fact, getting this ARC worked out perfectly because we picked up this book while in Rome, so we could see the places that Josh and Amelia visited together.

One of the main focuses of the book was that all of the main character are morally gray, including Amelia, Josh, Harper and Mignon Lee, who is introduced half way through the book through her journal entries. Mignon was a girl from Northern California who went missing two years ago, whose story is compared to Amelia’s.

At first we worried that the book would be too focused on influencer culture, but that turned out not to be true. Amelia’s was a lot more of a complex character than we initially gave her credit for. Being an influencer wasn’t her life goal, it served as a way to legitimize her secret life.

Amelia ended up being such a tragic character. We felt so bad for the way things turned out in her life and what she felt she needed to do. While her decisions weren’t always rational, it was easy to see why she felt she had no other choice. She truly felt alone in the world and felt like she could never be happy again.

We don’t want to say too much about the other three characters because that would give away their connections and the multiple plot twists that de la Cruz threw at us. We enjoyed reading all of their points of view because they each had something valuable to add the story and we liked the way they were all connected.

While we figured out the connection about half way through, we still didn’t know how this information would become public and the consequences for the characters.

The structure of the story was unique, which helped us get a feel for the characters. Each part of the story focused on one or two of the characters, letting us really understand their perspectives and motivations. We can say that not all of them were honest with us. One of them is an unreliable narrator, but which one?

Another interesting aspect of Going Dark is that it’s a character driven mystery. Not a ton of action happens throughout the book, which felt unique. We didn’t mind this take because the psychological aspects grabbed our attention. What made the mystery so exciting was trying to learn more about these characters and understanding who was innocent.

The one aspect we’d change about the book were the short sections that took place in Paris and Rome. We thought that de la Cruz had an opportunity to describe these incredible cities in more detail, but she mostly brushed over the specifics.

Also, at a dinner party in Rome, the characters ate risotto, which is more popular in cities like Milan. She had a chance to talk about Roman cuisine, like cacio e pepe, saltimbocca, carbonara, etc. We know were being picky, but as travelers, these details matter to us.

Overall though, we found Going Dark to be a unique mystery. Don’t let the influencer aspects fool you, this is a dark psychological book that doesn’t focus much on social media culture. Have you read this book yet? Let us know in the comments.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

16 thoughts on “Review: Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz”

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