Missing is the third book by Kelley Armstrong that I've read and it was just as enjoyable as the first two. It's a YA mystery and there are no paranormal elements, just a story about a girl in a small town in Kentucky who gets involved with missing persons. What seems at first like an isolated incident turns into something more, and before long Winter, our protagonist, wonders if the situation she's stumbled into has a larger significance.
Winter has a broken family life, with an alcoholic dad who hits her and a sister who left after a traumatic incident that goes unexplained at first. She's basically waiting to graduate so she can leave town, and in the meantime she tries not to antagonize her dad when he's drunk and hangs out in the forest to get away. The town of Reeve's End is a nowhere town and lots of kids just want to get away, but when Winter stumbles across a guy who's been beat up she realizes that some of those kids might not have left so much as they went missing. The guy, Lennon, seems to know something about what happened to the latest girl to go missing and Winter is beginning to trust him when he goes missing too.
Winter is very independent and spends a lot of time in the woods, she knows how to bow hunt. There's some nice moments when she feels she's being pursued and Armstrong captures that look-behind-you feel really well. Winter is well developed and as the story progresses we learn more about what happened with her sister Cadence. I liked Winter a lot and I grew to like Jude as well. Jude is Lennon's brother, the more responsible one, and he comes looking for Lennon.
Is there a love triangle? Of sorts. I initially thought Lennon was the love interest but when Jude shows up he seems to fill that role, and as I mentioned above I didn't care for Jude at first. By the end though I was firmly in his camp. Jude and Lennon come from a very prominent family and we slowly learn about some issues in their life that have shaped them to be who they are. So the characterizations here are solid, which is something this author doesn't seem to have any problems with, and the feel of the setting is there- the deep woods, an insular town in the middle of nowhere, secrets to be revealed. The only issue I had is the reveal, or the reason behind it all.
I honestly felt like it was a little far- fetched how everything came together, how smoothly some of the pieces fit. Having read City of the Lost and its sequel by this same author, I feel like those books are deeper and better, and this is I believe Armstrong's first foray into YA so maybe the different feel is intended, but I just didn't like this one as much. It's a fine YA mystery with an engaging protagonist, and she totally won me over with Jude, but it just doesn't quite reach City of the Lost levels for me. Still it's a solid YA read and an entertaining (and at times suspenseful) tale.