Collision by Kate L. Mary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Collision combines two of my favorite things: the new adult genre and mystery/suspense. Unfortunately, I had to work this week, or I would have read the novel in one sitting. (I received a copy from the author on Monday, through a “read and review it” thread on Goodreads.) In general, it’s a fast-paced read that held my attention, giving me characters and a storyline to care about.
After sustaining multiple injuries in a car accident, Kara Jones (our protagonist) learns a startling family secret. This new information launches her on a search for the truth…and right into the arms of Derek Miller.
While their relationship escalates quickly, I found it to be believable. Derek had admired Kara from afar during high school, and, having had crushes of my own during those formative years, I know how long-lasting and powerful they can be. I mean, he admits to attending every football game to see her cheer, which I thought was incredibly sweet. It struck me, too, that although the two ran in different social circles—she was popular and he wasn’t—Kara made a lasting impression on Derek due to her kindness:
“You said hi to me every morning and whenever you caught me staring—which was a lot—you smiled. You didn’t make me feel bad for thinking you were pretty. You didn’t act like I wasn’t good enough for you. You treated me like a person. That was the most I could have hoped for back then.”
As for Kara, her high school boyfriend (Bill) set the bar pretty low, so it seems clear to me that she’s ripe for a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
And speaking of exes…I’m really confused by Steph’s role in the novel. At first, Derek won’t even disclose her name, and I don’t fully understand the reason behind his secrecy. Does he know they’ll run into her during their trip to Kent? Is that why he’s so willing to go? Since we don’t ever hear from Derek’s point of view, I struggled to get a grasp on his feelings toward her. We know, through her conversation with Kara, that Steph was in love with Derek. But we don’t know whether he returned those feelings…right?
His dialogue and actions aren’t entirely helpful either. In the coffee shop, he tells Kara, “I don’t like her being so pissed at me. I didn’t do anything to her. She broke up with me.” But in a subsequent scene, Kara narrates: “Steph’s appearance has done something to Derek. He had his arm around me before she showed up, but now that she’s here he can’t seem to stop touching me.” Does this stem from an effort to make Steph jealous? Or is this Derek’s way of demonstrating that he’s serious about Kara—to her, to Steph, or perhaps to both of them?
The novel’s epilogue seems to lend itself to a sequel. If so, maybe Steph will make an appearance and, in doing so, answer some of my questions. Or maybe not. Maybe a sequel would focus entirely on furthering what Kara has learned about her parents. Either way, I would jump at the chance to read more from Kate L. Mary.
I find it refreshing that Kara knows she is attractive: “I’m not ashamed to say I think I’m pretty. It’s confidence, not vanity.” For better or for worse, it has become commonplace in new adult reads for female protagonists to be insecure about or oblivious to their own good looks. Frankly, I never quite know how to picture this type of character, because the girl’s perception of her outward appearance is at odds with others’ perceptions of the same thing. In Collision, I appreciate the straightforward manner in which Kara is described.
Another thing I appreciate about the novel is its humor. Despite its more serious subject matter, I liked the flirtation, teasing, and jokes that pass between Kara and Derek. Furthermore, Kara’s ongoing uncertainty when it comes to Dex’s sexual preferences is really funny.
Finally, I have to address this line from Steph: “You can’t seriously tell me you like him. You were a cheerleader in high school.” Really? I understand what she’s going for here, but as an AP student, I’d expect her to move beyond superficial labels and/or stereotypes, and to evaluate someone based on more than a single high-school-based affiliation. (I had really strong feelings when it came to Steph. Can you tell?)
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