Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
Series: Standalone
Released on: July 8th, 2014
Published by: HarperTeen
Rating: 4 stars
Word rating: Mind-bendiness
Reviewed by: Blythe 

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You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, and getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering. 

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

You guys, the pitch comparing The Half Life of Molly Pierce to Memento is so accurate. Although it may not be as psychological or deliciously puzzling as the film to which it's compared, The Half Life of Molly Pierce is an extremely entertaining and escapist mind game of a novel. The plot, characters, and relationships are all enticingly twisty, and Leno's unique writing style adds a layer of instability and vulnerability to her characters that makes the novel itself irresistible. 

Molly Pierce is the type of mystery/thriller that relies heavily on its ending; what you think of it and whether or not you saw it coming could make or break the entire novel for you. For me, it absolutely made the novel. According to other readers, it seems the final twist wasn't as unexpected for them as it was for me, but I think that may be because I had neither much knowledge about the novel going in, nor much knowledge about its central disorder and how it's handled in other forms of media beforehand. Because of this, I can't exactly attest to how original the final twist and its effects on the novel are, but from my standpoint, I found it to be an incredibly well-written and well-executed development. However, with that having been said, I would have definitely liked a bit more psychological depth towards the end with the introduction of the bigger twists. But, to make up for the lack of psychological depth is the unexpected emotional depth taken into play with the final twist, which was more than a welcome surprise. 

As for the writing style, I'm a reader for whom a stream-of-consciousness writing style rarely ever works, which makes the use of it in Molly Pierce and how much I enjoyed it all the more impressive. At first, I found the steam-of-consciousness rather jarring, but as the novel went on the writing style found its stride, and stayed there comfortably. I am especially a fan of the writing in the latter half of the novel, when revelations are made and twists are revealed; there are a lot of moments that are extremely quotable and surprisingly profound, and I loved what they added to the atmosphere of the novel and the complex emotion of the characters.

All in all, The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a fun and thoroughly engaging psychological thriller with mind-bending twists and captivating characters. It boasts tight plotting with punches along the way, interesting family dynamics, and positive portrayal of mental health professionals and the field in general; Leno's writing style is perfectly evocative for both Molly's character and her condition, and the effect it had on the story was absolutely intoxicating. At such a short length, Molly Pierce will be an easy novel to breeze through, but if you're like me, you'll find it lingers in your mind for weeks thereafter. Fans of Memento and Identity, which are two awesome movies which you should totally see if you haven't already, should find a lot to enjoy with this one; it's a quick popcorn thriller, and an awesome one at that. 


  1. I saw this up for review and passed on it, although reading this makes me wonder if I should reconsider. I agree about writing style. I think that stream of consciousnesses writing has to fit really well with the characters in order to work.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. Oh, if you do reconsider, let me know! I hope you like it in that case. Yeah, I've only read a few instances of steam of consciousness in YA (mostly Kiersten White, which I wasn't a huge fan of for the most part), but it really was fitting and excellent in here.

  2. This book was one of my most anticipated summer reads. I haven't read it yet and now, after reading your review, I am really looking forward to reading my review copy. I may have to squeeze it in among my current reads.

    1. Oh, I so hope you like it, Alexia! You'll have to let me know what you think.


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