Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review: The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Published: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Pages: 256

Source: First to Read
Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to "evolve," as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman's not sure, but more than anyone he's ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he's failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can't believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he's always trusted the least: himself.

My Rating:
I received this book from the First to Reads program for an honest review, all reviews and opinions are my own.

This one was a tough one to rate, many of the characters in the book are mysterious and even the one he grew up with is kind of mysterious. Arman even himself is all over the place, he wants to grow and find answers in life and get away from his toxic home life. He finds the answers here but not how he originally wanted them I believe. He like many people want an easy way out and Beau even though he lied to him he made Arman think for his self and have to rely on his self. Sometimes the only person in life that we can fully rely on is ourselves.

The girl Arman first runs into at this place is definitely a mystery as well, and I think only there to confuse him even more rather than help. Many of the people at this place are different and they don't give him much to go on, he also doesn't ask many questions when he first gets there. That is one thing I had problems with he said he liked Beau and looked up to him but didn't exactly explain how this came to be, was it just because he paid attention to Arman? If the characters were a bit more flushed out then I think this could have been a great book. 

This definitely shows that all people from all walks of life have their own problems regardless of what they are given in life. There are also others that want to ruin a good thing even though they think they know better. It is always good to question and question everything. Arman has many problems that he takes medicine for but I think the one that stands out is the one where he scratches himself until he bleeds when he is in a stressful situation or scared, or really any high emotion he can't really deal with. He learns that doing that to himself is a way for him to release the emotions that he keeps bottled up and it isn't healthy. I know some illnesses require medicine but others don't need it, the brain can do some amazing things. 

In the end I couldn't give this book a low rating because it did make me think about many things. Though at first I thought it was going to be a cult type thing it didn't begin like that so there were some good points through out this novel. I just think it could have done better in some spots. Let me know what you think? Do you think that some times medicines are over hyped/ used? 

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