Your heart rate will race and your emotions will soar when you read Kimberly Gabriel’s new YA thriller Every Stolen Breath. I know that I could barely put it down, despite all the papers I had to write and classes I had to attend.
Two years ago, the Swarm killed Lia Finch’s father. Who are the Swarm? Nobody knows… all we know is that they are a group of teenagers who randomly attack, killing by surrounding their victim in a crowd and kicking them until they die. Lia’s dad was a high profile lawyer working to take them down when he was attacked — and they’ve laid low ever since. The Chicago police believe that the Swarm is a thing of the past, but Lia knows better. She knows they will strike again.
Lia is determined to do anything to bring the Swarm to justice and keep them from taking more innocent lives. However, her debilitating asthma and PTSD makes everything a struggle. Her mom pleads with her to let it go, afraid to lose the last family member she has left, but Lia refused to be swayed. The Swarm has taken so much away from her, and they’re not done with her yet.
As Lia gets deeper and deeper into investigating, aided by her hacker best friend, Adam, she has to go to bigger and bigger lengths to avoid detection, but ultimately fails. The Swarm knows Lia is after them, which means that she could be their next victim. Lia thinks she has nothing, no one, to lose, but as the story progresses, she will see just how untrue that is.
I was blown away by how much this book made me feel. I feel like when I normally read thrillers, I don’t get that attached to the main characters, because thrillers tend to be more plot driven. In this book, though, the author makes you really feel for Lia. The author excels at putting you right in Lia’s head. You know exactly how she’s thinking and feeling, which makes you feel like you’re living the story, making it all the more painful to experience. You feel more intense her grief is and experience just how laser focused she is on destroying the Swarm. And when she faces more loss over the course of the story, you feel it right along with her. I found myself screaming “NO!” more than once while reading this book… if my roommate didn’t already think I’m crazy, she definitely does now. I can’t emphasize how real this book felt.
No other character dominates the book nearly as much as Lia, but every minor character is so well developed, they too feel so real. Lia’s mom is so well done, her best friend is a treasure, and the slimy mayor and his even slimier son leap off the page. The romance takes a major back seat in this book, but that makes sense, because Lia is so driven. Despite this, the love interest still captured my heart, so I’d say it’s a successful love story nevertheless.
What I love about the best thrillers, like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, is that they don’t just make your blood pound in your ears or make you need to turn the page, but they also make you stop and think about the darkness of the human soul. The Swarm is not some extraterrestrial organization out to destroy humanity — they are humans brutally killing other humans. The more I learned about the Swarm, the more I felt sick to my stomach. The twisted way that people manipulate each other, especially those in power to those not in power, is on full display.
The prose is also beautiful, perfectly morphing to match the pace of the story. In scenes bursting with tension, sentences shorten, making you almost tense up as you read it. In calmer scenes, the sentences relax, stretching out, putting you a little more at ease.
You will not want to put down this book once you open it. You will gasp, scream, probably cry, and most definitely root for Lia all the way. This rollercoaster is one that you will want to ride over and over again. I hope you all love it as much as I do!