Book Review: Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

  PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020...


PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020, A book with a three-word title

TW: Violence, loss of family members, stalking, drug use, sexism/misogyny, classism

YA thrillers are getting so popular and it's so thrilling. Combining my two favorite genres to make this wonderful mixed genre is giving. me. life. So when I heard about Five Total Strangers, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Christmas Eve. Mira is stuck at the airport because a massive snowstorm has cancelled her connecting flight. It's the one-year anniversary of her aunt's death, and worried about her mom's mental health, she's desperate to get home to her. So when her previous flight's seat-mate offers her a ride in the rental she's secured, Mira crams herself into the SUV with four complete strangers to venture her way across the state to make it home to her mom before Christmas. But something's not right with her fellow passengers, and soon things start going wrong and are getting increasingly worse with each passing minute. Is someone in the car purposely sabotaging the trip or are the all just unlucky coincidences? Is Mira ever going to make it home?

This book pulled me in almost immediately. The premise was reminiscent of another winter favorite No Exit (which I read in literally one sitting because I could not put it down) - winter weather leaves an unsuspecting MC stuck with strangers while trying to get home for the holidays. And while Strangers didn't leave me quite on the edge of my seat the way that No Exit did,  I was still immersed in this story of desperation, fear, and complete anxiety. 

There were definitely some snags in the storytelling - unexplained characters and events, unanswered questions, and a totally abrupt ending - but I was able to forgive those things because of how much I really enjoyed the book overall. Though a bit irritating and entirely irresponsible, I connected with Mira and could empathize with her situation. I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same thing in her situation, though I hope I wouldn't. The interweaving of these weird and creepy letters, and the small discrepancies with each character really had me biting my nails, because I literally had no idea who the hell the bad guy was. Seriously, up until the very last second of the book I didn't know who to suspect because they were all suspicious in their own ways. This was really one of the most suspenseful books I've read in such a long time, so I was more than happy to forgive the few things that irked me. 

"I’ve learned to pay attention when the hair at the back of my neck prickles - when a carnal, bone-deep instinct tells me something is wrong. And that’s what my instincts are saying now." - Five Total Strangers, Natalie D. Richards

If you're looking for a thrilling winter read that isn't all ice-skating and hot cocoa kisses, I highly recommend picking up Five Total Strangers. It will definitely leave you second guessing whether or not to accept small kindnesses from strangers ever again. 

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

*Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the free review copy in exchange for review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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